March 20, 2023

Media Decoder Blog: NBCUniversal Ad Campaign Bolsters Its ‘Upfront’ Presentations

Just as April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, the many “upfront” presentations scheduled this month — wooing marketers and agencies before the start of the 2013-14 television season — are bringing complementary advertising efforts intended to reinforce those pitches.

For instance, the FX cable channel has started running ads, which include signs on New York streets, which carry the theme “Fearless.” The campaign is meant to reinforce the FX brand identity as a risk-taking channel, as evidenced by series like “Louie,” “Justified” and “Sons of Anarchy.”

And this week, the NBCUniversal division of Comcast will introduce a trade campaign that carries the theme “Content. Consumers. Collaboration. Amplified.” The campaign, with a budget estimated at $1 million, is intended to convey that NBCUniversal offers marketers and agencies a broad, diverse collection of networks, channels and Web sites on which to run ads – more than just a network, NBC, which has ratings problems in prime time and personnel problems in its morning and late-night slots.

Each ad will offer its own, modified version of “Amplified,” as in “Digital. Amplified,” “Comedy. Amplified,” “Social. Amplified” and “Journalism. Amplified.” There will also be an online presence for the campaign, at, as well as print ads that use augmented reality, through a free app, Aurasma, to present short video clips.

The “Amplified” campaign is being created internally at NBCUniversal, by its integrated media group division. An agency named All Day Every Day, with offices in New York and Los Angeles, is working on the elements at

The goal is to promote “the power of our portfolio” and “our storytelling capabilities” for marketers, said Linda Yaccarino, president for advertising sales at NBCUniversal.

Asked if the campaign is being mounted now to help promote NBC, Ms. Yaccarino said it was being introduced because it was an “important time of year,” referring to the upfronts.

John Shea, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for integrated media at NBCUniversal, said, “The important thing we want our clients to know as we go into the upfront, and beyond, is that we’re able to work with them as one seamless portfolio.”

Several NBCUniversal cable channels like Oxygen have already made their upfront presentations, while others, including Bravo, E! and Syfy, will host them this week and next.

NBCUniversal also plans a companywide digital presentation-cum-party in New York on April 24, before the week of so-called Digital Content NewFronts begins the following week.

The print ads are scheduled to start appearing on Wednesday, in publications that include The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. There will be online ads as well, on and

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Media Decoder Blog: NBC Executive and Leno Said to Have Clashed Over Jokes

NBC has aggressively denied recent reports that it plans to replace Jay Leno soon as host of “The Tonight Show,” but the network’s top entertainment executive, Robert Greenblatt, recently stirred up a bit of a feud with the late-night star over jokes about the network.

Three executives close to the situation reported this week that Mr. Greenblatt had taken offense to monologue jokes Mr. Leno made last month in the wake of news stories about NBC’s ratings struggles and how the network had fallen into fifth place in the sweeps month of February — behind the Spanish-language network Univision.

Specifically, on the night of Feb. 28, Mr. Leno referenced the news about NBC’s falling into fifth place by telling a series of jokes:

“For the first time in history NBC is going to finish fifth in the ratings period,” Mr. Leno said. “We are behind the Spanish-language network Univision — or as we call it here in Los Angeles: Cinco de Ratings.” He added a series of rapid-fire jokes about how bad off NBC is including: “It’s so bad, ‘The Biggest Loser’ isn’t just a TV show anymore; it’s our new motto.” And: “It’s so bad, NBC called Manti Te’o and asked him to bring in some imaginary viewers.”

Mr. Greenblatt, who has the main responsibility for the network’s prime-time ratings, fired off an e-mail to Mr. Leno, according to those who were aware of the events, and complained. The executives who know about the conflict all asked not to be identified because of their ongoing dealings with NBC.

After the first e-mail from Mr. Greenblatt, two of the executives who know what transpired reported,there was an exchange of pointed e-mails between Mr. Leno and Mr. Greenblatt.

One of the executives who saw the exchange said that Mr. Leno was taken by surprise by Mr. Greenblatt’s comments and strongly defended himself, citing the fact that late-night stars poking fun “at their masters,” as the executive said, is in the long tradition of late-night comedy. Every late-night star, going back at least as far as Johnny Carson, has taken shots at network fortunes within the nightly monologue.

A representative for Mr. Leno said the comedian would not comment on the situation. Mr. Greenblatt was in meetings and was not reachable Friday night, a spokesman said.

This moment of conflict between Mr. Leno and NBC’s management preceded recent reports — denied categorically by NBC executives — that the network was preparing to make a change, moving out Mr. Leno and bringing in Jimmy Fallon, the star of its 12:35 program “Late Night.”

The rationale cited for the change was concern that ABC’s late-night star, Jimmy Kimmel, who was recently moved to go head to head with Mr. Leno, was staking a claim to the younger viewers that are of most economic value in late-night television.

So far, Mr. Leno has continued to win consistently in almost every rating category, including among viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, the chief target for late-night advertisers. Mr. Kimmel won his first week against Mr. Leno in that category, but Mr. Leno has won every week since.

NBC has not provided much help. The network’s ratings in prime time have hit record lows in the past two months. NBC now regularly finishes first in the ratings in only three places: the evening newscasts, “Saturday Night Live” and Mr. Leno’s “Tonight” show.

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Media Decoder Blog: CBS Finishes February Sweep Month on Top

With the Super Bowl, the Grammy Awards and the strongest regular lineup in television all on its schedule this month, it should be no surprise that CBS will be the big winner when the official February sweep rating period closes Wednesday night.

But the result will actually break one long streak of futility for CBS: this will be the first time since 1998 that the network will finish first in the most important category for advertising sales, viewers between the ages of 18 and 49.

CBS’s traditional strength is among older viewers, but this month the numbers in the 18-to-49 category fell decidedly in its favor. With just two nights left to be counted, CBS is averaging a 4.3 rating in that group, far ahead of ABC, which is second with a 2.2 rating. Fox is now third, with a 2 rating. That is an unusual place for that network because for a decade it has ridden high in February on the strength of “American Idol.”

NBC is trailing, of course. Its number, a 1.2 among the 18-to-49 audience, is the worst ever for a network, and well behind the Spanish-language network Univision, which is averaging a 1.5.

CBS last won in a February sweep 15 years ago, and it took covering a Winter Olympics to do it that time. But CBS’s longtime strategy of assembling the biggest audiences possible, without focusing strictly on younger adults, has never seemed more sound.

For the month, CBS — backed by those big events — is averaging 15.46 million viewers in prime time. The closest competitor is ABC, with less than half that total, 7.32 million. Fox has dropped 13 percent in a year, and is down to 6.1 million viewers. NBC, which had the Super Bowl last year to inflate its numbers, has had a plunge to 3.96 million viewers, from 10.26 million.

Perhaps the most striking example of CBS’s appeal to the mass of viewers is this statistic from February: For the month, in terms of scripted entertainment shows (that means no sports, award shows or reality shows), individual episodes of shows on CBS occupy the first 31 places in terms of total viewers.

To be fair, this only includes viewing based on the episodes’ being watched on the same day they are broadcast. The show in 32nd place, ABC’s “Modern Family,” for example, gains well over four million viewers when delayed viewing of its episodes is included.

But CBS’s dominance in terms of appealing to the largest number of people is unassailable. The network often brands itself, accurately, as “the most-watched network.” In February, no other network comes close.

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N.F.L. Maneuvering Gives TV a Prime Attraction for Prime Time

Why did the N.F.L. deny the request of its premier television partner and decline to give it the guaranteed ratings bonanza of a Cowboys game? Because that would have given the Cowboys their season limit of prime-time appearances. And the scheduling department had already gotten a lucky break, when Dallas and Washington eked out last-minute victories in Week 14, keeping the Giants from running away with the N.F.C. East, and keeping the Cowboys-Redskins matchup on Sunday in the mix to be the 256th and final game of the regular season.

So NBC got the breakout performance by the Seahawks instead. And the N.F.L., with a series of Rubik’s Cube movements, got a final day in which 10 of 16 games have playoff implications — even though only two playoff slots are open — and which builds to the win-and-you’re-in showdown between the Redskins and the Cowboys for the N.F.C. East title.

Think you have trouble following all the playoff and seeding possibilities? The N.F.L. spends months — and lots of bandwidth — early in the year constructing its regular-season schedule, taking into account everything from team requests not to play in too much heat to baseball playoff games that could take up shared parking lots. But it has just one day — last Sunday — to set the order of play for the final day of the regular season, so that the maximum number of teams take the field with something on the line, and the maximum number of viewers can see each game.

“We were thinking about Green Bay-Minnesota in prime time and we thought what would the day have looked like,” said Michael North, the N.F.L.’s director of broadcast planning. “What would have happened if earlier in the day San Francisco and Seattle both lose and Green Bay clinches the 2 seed before they take the field — now for Chicago and the Giants, Minnesota may end up playing Green Bay’s backups. What if Minnesota clinches the wild card, they don’t have to play their starters and Green Bay may be playing for the 2 seed against backups.”

Got that?

Several years ago, the N.F.L. decided to make each game on the final day a division matchup, enhancing the chances that the games would have postseason implications. More recently, it started paying attention to the order the games are played throughout Sunday, so that early games do not render later ones irrelevant. Last Sunday, it became obvious that the Cowboys-Redskins game was the only one the N.F.L. could be sure would still be meaningful by 8 p.m., no matter what happened earlier. So it gave that game to NBC, ensuring that for the fourth time in five seasons, the very last game of the regular season would decide a division.

“Fox wasn’t thrilled, but we have constant dialogue with them,” said Howard Katz, the league’s senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations. “They let us know they’d like to keep the Dallas game if at all possible. It could have been Green Bay going for the 1 seed, Minnesota having to win to get the 6 seed and Adrian Peterson going for the rushing record. But in the end, there were things that could have negated it all. We had to go with the sure thing.”

The N.F.L. has several rules at its disposal that help Katz, North and the rest of the scheduling department massage the schedule so that the final Sunday contains intrigue. In addition to all games being between division opponents, neither CBS nor Fox is allowed to “protect” any games in the final week, making every one eligible to move to the single prime-time slot. And the league waits until a week before to make the final decision on how to sequence the games, rather than the 12-day notice it gives for every other week.

Still, the decisions are byzantine. The N.F.L. considered moving the Giants’ game to 4:25 p.m., but that would have meant moving the Chicago game, too, to keep both meaningful. That would have left Fox with two meaningless games at 1 p.m. So the N.F.L. kept the Giants and the Bears games at 1 p.m. In the A.F.C., the league considered leaving the Houston, New England, Denver and Baltimore games at the same time, with playoff seeding at stake — the Patriots can finish anywhere from the first to the fourth seed.

Instead, the New England and Denver games were moved to late afternoon, because the Patriots will still be playing for the No. 2 seed even if Houston and Baltimore win early. The result: all the teams will be watching the scoreboard throughout the day, and so will all their fans.

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NBC Rides ‘The Voice’ to First Place

Apparently so, as long as the hit is on for more than 40 hours in four months.

NBC has managed that unexpected turnaround from worst to first this fall, largely — competitors suggest almost exclusively — on the strength of the addition of a single show: “The Voice,” the singing competition that features swinging chairs and big-name musical artists as coaches.

Yes, NBC also has “Sunday Night Football,” but that powerhouse was on the schedule last fall, when NBC had a 2.6 rating among the viewers preferred by many advertisers, ages 18 through 49. Each rating point in that age category equals 1.26 million people. With those 40-plus hours of “The Voice” added (as well as vastly improved ratings for adjacent shows), NBC is up 23 percent to a 3.2 rating.

On Mondays, when the first of two weekly editions of the show plays, NBC is up a staggering 206 percent.

“We built our strategy around ‘The Voice,’ ” said Paul Telegdy, the president of reality and late-night programming for NBC. “We wanted to use Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to build momentum, and we’ve successfully done it.”

The show’s most recent edition started in February, coming out of a big introduction on the night of the Super Bowl. With its prime-time in tatters, NBC decided to insert the series twice this season, something its most similar antecedent, “American Idol,” has never done.

But the show’s executive producer, Mark Burnett, has done it before with shows he produced. “I knew it would be a challenge, but it was a challenge to take ‘Survivor’ to twice a season and ‘The Apprentice’ to twice a season, and that all worked out,” he said. The pressing question for NBC is what happens after Dec. 18, when this edition of “The Voice” has its finale. (Or, for that matter, when the N.F.L. season ends.)

Senior executives at two competing networks said NBC was taking a risk by being carried by one show. That immediately conjured comparisons to “Idol,” which for years lifted the Fox network almost single-handedly to first place, and — more ominously — to “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” the game show phenomenon that blazed at ABC and then flamed out from overuse.

“You do wonder if this is the NBC version of ‘Millionaire,’ ” said Brad Adgate, the senior vice president for research at Horizon Media.

Mr. Burnett questioned that premise, noting that his “Survivor” has been on twice a season and is now in its 25th edition.

Still, “The Voice” does occupy a singing genre crowded with Fox’s two entries, “The X Factor” and “Idol.” Both have had recent ratings declines for their latest editions.

“The Voice” will also go through a test when it returns in March with two new coaches, the singers Shakira and Usher, replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, who are taking off that cycle. Blake Shelton and Adam Levine will remain in the four-coach mix.

Preston Beckman, the longtime senior program executive at Fox, said, “I do think they will feel the loss in January and February, and it gives ‘Idol’ the sole ownership of the genre for a few months. The real test will be what it does when it returns, especially with the two new judges. That will determine what happens to the network next year.”

Mr. Telegdy credited the success of “The Voice” to the power of the format, which was created by the Dutch producer John DeMol. It is now produced in more than 50 countries, and has been an explosive hit in many of them. “The finale of the Chinese version attracted 300 million viewers,” Mr. Telegdy said.

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Shield of Celebrity Let Jimmy Savile Escape Scrutiny for Decades

The confidential file, compiled from 2007 to 2009, contained witness statements and “significant and solid evidence,” according to a former senior officer with the Surrey Police, a force outside London that conducted a two-year investigation into Mr. Savile. Recently, amid allegations by hundreds of women and at least two men that Mr. Savile used his fame and influence as a shield to abuse them as children, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement that the case was dropped because a crucial witness declined to testify and because there was “insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.”

But at the Surrey Police headquarters, the former senior officer said, those who investigated the case felt that prosecutors were hesitant to confront a man who had spent decades building a cult of celebrity in Britain that few could match. Mr. Savile’s popularity and power rested on his blend of flashy showmanship on top-rated prime-time BBC programs, working-class chumminess and charitable endeavors that attracted powerful friends and patrons in royal palaces, Parliament and the highest ranks of the police.

“Really, it came down to this: do we really want to take on this man, Saint Jimmy, who does all of this fund-raising and knows all of these people?” the officer said.

Despite widespread suspicion about Mr. Savile’s behavior over decades, and Mr. Savile’s acknowledgment in his autobiography that he had a predilection for young girls, the prosecution that was halted in 2009 was one of a number of missteps and missed signals that allowed Mr. Savile to escape legal scrutiny for most of his career, according to accounts from police officers, victims and those who knew and worked with him.

Seven police investigations were begun into Mr. Savile’s sexual activities before he died last year just shy of his 85th birthday, according to British news reports, but officers have said that separate police forces across Britain were unable to connect the dots, partly because a national crime database did not come into full operation until 2010. Mr. Savile’s connections and fame made pursuing sometimes hazy allegations against him unpalatable, others familiar with those investigations said. Newspapers, afraid of Britain’s strict libel laws, decided not to publish their suspicions, although several had conducted their own investigations over the years.

Along the way, Mr. Savile cultivated police officers he met at corporate functions or community events, meeting regularly with many of them at his penthouse apartment in Leeds, the northern industrial city that was his hometown, according to an account in The Times of London.

“Most of the officers who attended the ‘club’ at Savile’s home were from the West Yorkshire Police, the force now investigating claims that Savile abused vulnerable children while working as a volunteer at Leeds General Infirmary,” the newspaper said.

Mr. Savile’s behavior continued despite a series of publicly known sexual episodes and other warning signs involving young people, including one occasion when he groped a girl on live television. A new police investigation, a review by the Prosecution Service of the file it set aside in 2009, hearings by a parliamentary committee, and three inquiries at the BBC, as well as new investigations by the schools, hospitals and mental institutions  Mr. Savile frequented on his charitable rounds, are now asking the same question as many Britons: how did one of the nation’s best-loved entertainers, a household name, get away with so much for so long?

Mr. Savile’s autobiography, “As It Happens,” published in 1974, when Mr. Savile was 48, did not seek to hide his appetites. Years before he became a famous television host, Mr. Savile recounted, a police officer asked him to look out for a young girl who had run away from a home for juvenile offenders.

Mr. Savile told the officer that if she went to the nightclub in the north of England that he ran at the time he would hand her over to the authorities, “but I’ll keep her all night first as my reward.” The girl did go to his nightclub and did spend the night with Mr. Savile, he wrote. A police officer was alarmed, but he said he dissuaded her from bringing charges against him.

Sandy Macaskill and Lark Turner contributed reporting.

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You’re the Boss Blog: How Many Times Can You Tweet the Same Tweet?

On Social Media

Generating revenue along with the buzz.

I’m a heavy Twitter user. I love how fast it moves. If you are looking for instant feedback on anything, Twitter is the place to test your content or messaging. It’s also the place to get answers to your questions. And it’s the best listening device on the Internet. You can search for keywords, customers, competition, and industry thought leaders and find out what everyone is thinking. And no one even knows you are listening.

The most effective use of Twitter, however, is to drive traffic. If you are writing articles or developing original content of any kind — blogs, photographs, podcasts, videos — Twitter is a fantastic place to make connections and build a community. That’s not news, of course. More and more people have come to understand the power of Twitter. But here’s a question that can bring very different answers — even from people with a lot of experience on Twitter:

How many times can you share the same piece of content? How do you strike a balance between making sure you reach all of your followers and making sure you don’t annoy all of your followers?

I have my own point of view on this, which I will share later in this post, but first I want to tell you what I learned when I sought guidance from the Twitterverse:

Guy Kawasaki, founder of Alltop and a Twitter icon with more that 1.1 million followers says, “Repeat your tweets four times, eight hours apart! If you do it that way you will always catch Pacific Coast prime time, which is early evening.”

But doesn’t that much sharing irritate people? “You are always going to upset .01 percent of the people,” Mr. Kawasaki said. “If you turn on CNN at 3 a.m., CNN repeats stories all day long — because they know people watch them at different times of the day. People in different time zones and people in the same time zone visit Twitter at different times, so you need to keep posting your content to accommodate all these people.”

Stephanie Chandler, an author and president of Authority Publishing, a social media firm based in Sacramento, Calif., said the following: “I retweet most new blog posts eight to 10 times over 90 days. My experience is that people don’t care when the post was written as long as it is still relevant. Also, since so many tweets are missed because we aren’t all logged in at the same time, it’s essential to repeat your tweets.”

Now, I probably retweet as much as anyone on Twitter, so here’s what I think. When I publish a fresh piece of content, I always share it four times — every three hours the first day it is released. As the week goes on, I reduce the number of times it’s tweeted. I use analytics to help me decide what content to keep sharing past the first week.

All told, I tweet an average of 34 times a day during week days. On Wednesdays, I actually tweet even more, because that’s when I host #Smallbizchat, a weekly tweetchat where a guest and I answer small-business questions live.

There are some things that I tweet seven times a week, like an announcement of who my chat guest will be and an explanation of how to participate. I also publish a transcript of the chat interview as a blog post every Thursday, and I share that heavily, too.

Here are a few pointers I’ve picked up along the way:

You risk turning people off if all you do is promote your own content. But if you share other people’s stuff generously, you will first build trust and then a following.

I spend an hour a day figuring out what I plan to share. I use Hootsuite, and I typically work Twitter first thing in the morning.

Create a Twitter all-star list. I have a private list of 50 to 75 Twitter-users whose content I know and trust. They are a constant source of great content to share.

Use helpful plugins. I use a WordPress plugin called Tweet Old Post, which randomly pulls content from my blog and shares it on Twitter every four hours.

Go into Twitter three times a day — do not leave your account on autopilot. Make sure you to respond to people and do live retweeting.

It took 18 months of daily tweeting before I felt I had established my identity. It works for me because I treat Twitter like a job. You can do it too, one tweet at a time.

Melinda Emerson is founder and chief executive of Quintessence Multimedia, a social media strategy and content development firm. You can follow her on Twitter.

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