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@ NBC Upfront: Under A Soggy Tent, The TV Upfront Moves To Its Next Stage

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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

3 Responses to “@ NBC Upfront: Under A Soggy Tent, The TV Upfront Moves To Its Next Stage”

  1. Staci,

    Hmmm… I ran this piece by five random people and while David may have been there, it's not clear he actually went through the upfront. Words like "attendees" and the "throng" don't really make this clear.

    Furthermore, during the actual upfront, it wasn't raining FYI :) Little details.

    In regards to Sansa and portable content, if you read my comments above I was specifically asking about your coverage of NBC using Windows Media with DRM on Sandisk media to distribute their upfront content. Seems like this is something your audience might find interest in.



  2. Staci D. Kramer


    I appreciate your passion but I think it's pretty clear that David was there. We've also devoted a fair amount of space to NBCU's deal with SanDisk since it was announced. Thanks for adding this detail.

  3. I would hardly call all the work NBC put into the upfront as being "trapped in a Radio Shack Theme Park."

    The goal was to stoke new interest in a somewhat stagnant marketplace and inspire advertisers to be compelled to invest in NBC's upcoming offerings.

    As someone who actually went through the Upfront set, I found it quite compelling and interesting and unique. Sure they could have toned it down but how would that have accomplished their goals? They held the event onsite and within a reasonable budget for the whole impressive set.

    As a site that claims to be dedicated to the digital medium, you left off coverage about how NBC distributed previews of the upcoming season on flash drives from Sansdisk in the high-quality Windows Media format using WIndows Media DRM. This was pretty significant given it was a first for a major TV network and apparently was well received by their prospective advertisers.

    Did you actually see the Upfront?