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As promised, NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) did not host the usual bombastic stage show for this year’s upfront. Instead, attendees had to navigate through a crowded maze of lights and plasma screens that had the feeling of being trapped in a Radio Shack theme park. From there, the throng moved on to the bar at Rockefeller Center’s rink, which was covered by a huge white tent to shield the party from the rain.
NBC had some TV-related digital news today, highlighting plans to premiere additional webisodes of The Office and Heroes in July, a new Saturday Night Live political site and more community based features. On the mobile front, NBC will create 30 show WAP sites with recaps, quizzes and over 500 short-form streaming clips. Release.
More after the jump…
— Saving money, trying something new: Advertisers’ views on the proceeding were mixed. While in line near a stage featuring performers from the game show American Gladiators, one media buyer said this all seemed “over the top, but not in the usual way. This isn’t making a good impression, but I hope they at least saved some money.” Another media buyer tried to be philosophical. “I don’t think this is the kind of thing I would like to bring clients to, but given the stresses of the economy and the impact from the writers strike, you have to give them credit for attempting to do something different. The upfront was invented for a different media universe. It needs to be updated. And you can’t move forward without trying something else.”
— Upfront 2009: falafel stand meetup: In an attempt to provide some star power to the event, Conan O’Brien was introduced by NBC News anchor Brian Williams. O’Brien, who will move to Hollywood to take over Jay Leno’s role as host of The Tonight Show, took a look back at how times have changed during his tenure at NBC. O’Brien: “When I first started at this company, 15 years ago, NBC’s upfronts were held at prestigious Avery Fisher Hall. Then, they moved to Radio City Music Hall, a beautiful majestic palace. Now, we’re all standing a in soggy tent outside the NBC store. I hope you’ll join us at next year’s upfronts at the falafel stand on 49th St.” (Video is here.)
— Zucker and Michaels: I spoke to Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal