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‘We did not create another opaque walled garden’: NBCU touts transparency (and sports) at upfronts

A tv casting a peacock-shaped shadow.

Illustration by Robyn Phelps / Getty / The Current

NBCUniversal (NBCU) kicked off upfronts week with a celebrity-packed show (from Snoop Dogg to Kevin Hart), touting its prowess in both broadcasting and streaming in front of an audience of advertisers at Radio City Music Hall on Monday.

The company highlighted original programming across its streamer Peacock and its cable and broadcast networks. But the real star seemed to be a robust sports lineup that includes Sunday Night Football, a Peacock-exclusive NFL kickoff-week game and of course, the Olympics this summer.

It all culminated with Chairman of Global Advertising and Partnerships Mark Marshall breaking down results for One Platform Total Audience, a machine-learning-supported ad platform announced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES).

Marshall said that during a test of two parallel campaigns for Dominos, One Platform Total Audience drove a 38% increase in sales compared to the traditional plan.

“It’s important to know that we did all of this in a fully transparent way,” Marshall said. “We did not create another opaque walled garden. We gave visibility to where every single unit ran.

“Results like this don’t just happen on their own. They happen when you invest in premium content and data; when you leverage linear and streaming all in a 100% brand-safe environment; and when you have the unmatched daily ad supported reach like ours.” 

The company highlighted plenty of its premium content during the nearly two-hour-long presentation — from Universal Pictures’ Wicked, which will hit theaters this holiday season followed by Peacock in 2025, to new NBC and Peacock originals, as well as the upcoming 50th season of Saturday Night Live.

Live sports were also highlighted. As sports rights increasingly shift to streaming, they are still a centerpiece of traditional TV. NBCU highlighted a blend of linear and streaming sports content and emphasized the Olympics, which advertisers will be able to buy programmatically for the first time on Peacock.

Sports commentator Mike Tirico, known for NBC’s Sunday Night Football, claimed onstage that Olympics will offer “eight Super Bowls’ worth” of audience impressions for advertisers.

But as one video during the presentation boasted, the Olympics are just the beginning for NBCU this year and beyond. Peacock will stream an exclusive NFL game, its first in Brazil, during kickoff week this coming season. And the presentation looked forward to 2026, when NBC and Peacock will be home to the World Cup and the Super Bowl.

It all seemed to position Peacock as a sports-heavy platform, as more and more major streaming services dip their toes into live sports.

NBCU’s overall pitch to advertisers seemed to be that it offers a wide array of content across traditional and streaming TV, combined with the tech and scale necessary to help drive results for advertisers.

“We now have the data and insights of our digitally native competitors; 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,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCU Media Group.