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NBC: Back to Basics

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 6, 2010 12:20 PM

NBC is returning to a more traditional outreach to woo agencies and advertisers for the 2010-11 season.

Hoping to get out of fourth place in primetime viewership, NBC and its NBC Universal family of cable networks is going "back to basics" in its outreach to brand marketers this year, says NBCU president of ad sales Mike Pilot.

"For us, it’s a requirement, our big issue in the marketplace is getting NBC primetime back to health,” Pilot tells the New York Times.

Its May 17th New York upfront event for media buyers will take a more "traditional" tone in promoting NBC’s 2010-11 season. That means it will be “all about programming,” said Pilot. “We’re going to show a lot of tape; we’re going to have a lot to show.”

Twenty pilots are in development, as NBC is (a) looking for that most elusive of creatures: a hit and (b) to “repopulate the 10 o’clock hour” following the collapse of Jay Leno's talkshow at that hour.

So far, greenlit series for the fall include Undercovers, a spy drama from Lost producer J.J. Abrams, and the return of the critically drubbed The Marriage Ref and Parenthood.

Touting Parenthood as "one of the most upscale series on prime-time broadcast television, ranking in the top 10 in terms of the concentration of homes with incomes of $100,000 or more in its adult 18-49 audience," NBC is clearly focused on regaining upscale viewers to deliver to advertisers.

Past series including The West Wing, ER and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip gave NBC an inroad with more affluent viewers, which 30 Rock and The Office have helped shore up—but they can't do all the heavy lifting alone.

Meanwhile, its renewal of its competition series, Minute to Win It, is testament that the peacock network can still appeal to a broad swath of TV viewers, but there’s some urgency to its preening and primping in search of better days and elusive viewers.

NBCU is also selling cross-network opportunities including pitching its Green is Universal campaign, offering eco-conscious brands an opportunity to strut their stuff on NBC and its cable siblings (USA, Bravo, MSNBC, CNBC, SyFy, Oxygen, Chiller, Sleuth, mun2, Universal HD) with product integration and spots.

NBC is projected to take in some $1.65 billion in ad commitments, up 12.8% from the $1.46 billion it secured in 2009. Historically, NBC led the upfront week presentations and would normally show in early May, but this year FOX is the first broadcast network up at bat.

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