NBCUniversal Kickstarts Upfront Week 2024 with Personalities, Performances…and Peacock

By Upfronts/NewFronts Archives
Cover image for  article: NBCUniversal Kickstarts Upfront Week 2024 with Personalities, Performances…and Peacock

Long on memorable celebrity appearances and show-stopping musical performances, short on executive patter and pitches. That's the kind of ceremony NBCUniversal regularly displayed in its traditional role as opening act of the annual mid-May Upfront event week in New York City, the kind hampered in recent years by coronavirus pandemic circumstances or TV industry strikes. That kind of ceremony came back May 13 before a near-capacity audience at Radio City Music Hall.


Download The Myers Report White Paper "What is the Upfront and Why is it Still Relevant?" below.


The Big Message: With a top-notch catalog of content and channels, supplemented by innovative technology and advertising formats, NBCUniversal is the powerhouse avenue to reach any viewer demographic at any hour on a grand scale. "We have the beloved talent, brands and intellectual properties of the iconic entertainment companies, and we have the reach and scale of the social media platforms," explained Mark Lazarus, NBCUniversal Media Group's Chairman. "While we continue to evolve, our vision remains crystal clear. We are going to harness the power and expertise that comes with being an iconic media company and use it to drive experimentation and growth."

Hosts: A mix of NBCUniversal executives and celebrities were on hand to lead segments of the presentation. Three other executives participated with Lazarus: Studio Group and Chief Content Officer Donna Langley, News Group Chairman Cesar Conde (also speaking at Telemundo's event that night) and Global Advertising & Partnerships Chairman Mark Marshall. Talent hosts included The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon, Late Night's Seth Meyers, Watch What Happens Live's Andy Cohen, Kevin Hart and Sunday Night Football sportscaster/Olympics host Mike Tirico.

What Worked: Arranging the content segments by genre (scripted drama/scripted comedy/scripted miniseries, etc.), with upcoming NBC and Peacock attractions getting a big push. Peacock's forthcoming scripted output was the sole subject of two segments.

What Also Worked: A clever two-part musical opening. In classic Radio City Music Hall fashion, an orchestra rises from the pit to the stage to play a medley of iconic NBC series and Universal movie themes, from Mike Post's Law & Order (complete with twangy guitar) to an assortment of John Williams compositions (E.T. and various NBC News/Sports melodies included). From there, Fallon warbles a set of parody tunes on the state of TV. "Next year I'll be a hologram on Chat GPT," he declared during one song.

What Can Work Here: Having a segment on coverage of the 2024 Summer Olympics from Paris featuring a live appearance by an Olympic athlete. Nothing like a top medal contender hearing cheers from thousands inside Radio City Music Hall.

Data Points: Sunday Night Football has occupied the top series spot on broadcast TV for 13 years running. Team USA has topped the medal count for seven straight Summer Olympics. A recent Domino's Pizza multi-service campaign using One Platform Total Audience-generated information provoked a 38 percent sales lift.

News: NBC's 2024-25 season series newcomers include hospital satire St. Denis Medical, Reba McIntire-starring comedy Happy's Place and drama Brilliant Minds starring Zachary Quinto. Saturday Night Live's 50th season on NBC will include a primetime anniversary special next February. Peacock's long-awaited miniseries adaptation of The Day of the Jackal will debut this fall, starring Academy Award-winner Eddie Redmayne. Watch What Happens Live will continue on Bravo through the end of 2025.

Bonus Points: A great sneak peek at The Americas, NBC's new natural history series coming next February. As a sequence narrated by Tom Hanks appears, the orchestra plays the music for that sequence composed by Hans Zimmer. More musical highlights: New The Voice judge Michael Bublé injecting a brief off-the-cuff rap before a classic take on "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You," versatile band Little Big Town performing a medley of songs with a holiday season flavor, and Kelly Clarkson wrapping things up with her big hits "Stronger" and "Since You've Been Gone."

Parting Words: "Our networks know what the people want. Our networks still have the sense to hold Upfronts." -Jimmy Fallon during one of his parody songs.

"We have the unique ability to bring stories forward, and by doing that, giving voice to visionary artists with something to say." -NBCUniversal Studio Group and Chief Content Officer Donna Langley.

"The Olympics is the ultimate worldwide cultural moment." -Kevin Hart.

"We've had many game show sketches that have outlasted many game shows!" -Saturday Night Live cast member Kenan Thompson.

"Connections are what we seek out. Not only from our relationships, but also from our favorite sports teams, shows and movies. This is also what we all strive for our brands, to have your product show up in moments of consumer connection." -Mark Marshall, NBCUniversal Chairman, Global Advertising & Partnerships.

"Together, we know that strong news organizations equal strong democracies." -NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde.

"Peacock makes it easy to prove that in order to make a billion dollars, you have to spend eight!" -Seth Meyers, delivering his annual TV industry roast monologue.

Click the social buttons to share this story with colleagues and friends.
The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.org/MyersBizNet.

Copyright ©2024 MediaVillage, Inc. All rights reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.