NBCUniversal Unveils Initiative To Feature Original Programming On Hulu, VOD & More

By | Tuesday April 15, 2014 @ 11:57am PDT

NBCUniversal__120928224730-200x133__140404232610The original video programming initiative will debut first on NBCUniversal’s various digital platforms, including channel websites, Hulu and VOD, NBCU said today in a statement. Promos for the digital series will appear during various programs on NBCU TV networks. In some cases, development of the digital series will be in collaboration with advertising partners. “This original, digital-first programming, scaled with the unmatched resources of our company and our production partners, underscores the unparalleled opportunities we can create,” said Linda Yaccarino, President, Advertising Sales, NBCUniversal. “The combination of digital video alongside television content is extremely powerful and becoming an increasingly important part of the connection advertisers make with consumers. We want to offer our partners the unique ability to harness the power of our creative assets along with our distribution capabilities including the video-on-demand platform like no other company can do.”’

Among the digital projects slated to come from Universal Cable Prods include new series Tesla And Twain and Last Single Girl. UCP is also developing additional original series in collaboration with 72 and Sunny Productions. Tesla And Twain is a comedic series loosely based on the real friendship between the great author and the great inventor… if they were suddenly transported to modern day Los Angeles. Last Single Girl tells the story of a single, over-educated and under-employed young woman who is coming to terms with being a grown-up while all of her best friends are getting married. Read More »

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Comcast’s Brian Roberts Made $31.4M In 2013, +7.7%

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 2:39pm PDT

The company that owns the largest collection of cable systems plus NBCUniversal has about 3.6 times the market value of CBS — yet CEO Brian Roberts made less than half of what CBS paid Les Moonves in 2013?Read More »

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Oxygen Greenlights Seven New Series As Part Of Upcoming Rebranding

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 8:59am PDT

oxygen__121004001549-200x133__130603181223Oxygen Media unveiled seven new original series for its 2014 slate today under new president Francis Berwick and said it is planning a rebrand for later this year “targeting modern, young women.” Docu-series on the roster range in subjects from finding the next female hip-hop star (executive produced by rapper T.I.) to comediennes, and competition series involving street artists and nail designers. They will join returning series Preachers Of LA, which recently was picked up for a second season after becoming the most-watched freshman series in network history among adults 25-54, averaging more than 1 million total viewers. It will premiere in summer. The network said today it will soon begin casting new Preachers editions in New York, Atlanta, Dallas and Detroit. Berwick, the president at sister NBCUniversal network Bravo, was tapped in September to oversee Oxygen.  Here is more detail from the network on the new series:

Related: Bravo Unveils 15 New Series, 3 Projects In Development, 16 Returning Series

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NBCU Chief Steve Burke Says Network Should Be Judged On Sales To 18-49 Demo

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 9:59am PDT

Steve BurkeSteve Burke doesn’t want people, or advertisers, to pay attention to total viewer ratings because “we’re in the 18-to-49 business,” he told a press gathering today in the run-up to the upfront sales season. Indeed, if presented with a program that would attract a big total audience, but not would be weak in the target demo, “we wouldn’t pick that show up,” he says. That’s required a change in thinking at the NBC, where shows such as Today and Nightly News With Brian Williams often are promoted on the basis of the 25-54 demo. nbc4“They should at least know both” the younger and older demo numbers, Burke says. He acknowledges that older viewers can be attractive for advertisers; for example, NBC has tried to capitalize on The Blacklist‘s popularity with 55-to-64 year olds, a group it calls the Alpha Boomers. Still, Burke says, “it’s very hard to get the industry to change” and “as long as people keep score that way [by focusing on young adults], that’s how we’re going to broadcast.”

The NBCUniversal exec renewed a familiar call for the industry to look at 52 weeks of programming instead of the 35 weeks from September to May. “We’re living in a completely different time now,” he says. “We’re competing straight through the summer.” He and research chief Alan Wurtzel also want Nielsen to step up its efforts to measure viewing on mobile devices, and advertisers to buy spots based on the number of people watching over seven days, not just three. “Those are things the industry can do today,” Wurtzel says. Burke adds that for some shows such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show as much as 40% of the views “we’re not monetizing and we need to change that. Read More »

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‘Ghost Hunters’ Legal Win Means No More Fright For NBCUniversal

By | Friday April 4, 2014 @ 4:33pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEGhost HuntersSeven years bad luck is what you usually get for breaking a mirror so looks like NBCUniversal has finally put the pieces together and outrun the curse – literally and figuratively. After more than 7 years of legal haunting and a near-trip to the Supreme Court, the media company seemingly has been freed of the Ghost Hunters lawsuit that claimed it lifted the idea for the flagship Syfy reality show. California’s 2nd Court of Appeals this week granted NBCU a summary judgment NBCUniversal__120928224730-200x133and said that parapsychologist Larry Montz and publicist Daena Smoller’s initial 2006 case hadn’t brought their claims within the applicable two-year statute of limitations. “In sum, the undisputed facts and the law established the right of petitioners to an order granting their motion for summary judgment,” said the April 1 order (read it here) by Judge Nora Margaret Manella. Now of course this isn’t totally over as Montz and Smoller could appeal again — though their chances of success at this point look dim. Read More »

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Universal Slapped With ‘Section 6′ Lawsuit By MGM & James Bond Producer

By | Friday April 4, 2014 @ 11:09am PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGETurns out there’s not enough room in Hollywood for two British agents with a license to kill. Aiming for a clean shot, MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq earlier this week went after Universal in federal court over the latter’s Section 6 project. Calling the WW1-set Aaron Berg-scripted pic a “James Bond knockoff” the plaintiffs want unspecified damage and they want  the Universal-Pictures-logo-2013__140130232555__140321183123-275x141court to declare an injunction shutting down the Universal property that Joe Cornish was recently brought on board to helm. “This lawsuit concerns a motion picture project, in active development, featuring a daring, tuxedo-clad British secret agent, employed by ‘His Majesty’s Secret Service,’ with a ‘license to kill,’ and a 00 secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomanical villain,” the heavily censored April 3 filing says (read it here). “Most moviegoers would assume from that description alone that this lawsuit concerns the next James Bond picture. It does not.” Read More »

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NBCUniversal Inks Film Streaming Deal With Sony’s Crackle

By | Thursday April 3, 2014 @ 12:38pm PDT

Crackle_logo__130506185030-e1367866249933-275x75NBCUniversal is knocking out its exclusive multi-year streaming deals in short order. A day after NBCU’s Television & New Media Distribution arm announced a TV licensing pact with Hulu, it has unveiled a deal with Sony TV’s CrackleRead More »

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Hulu Inks Exclusive Streaming Deal With NBCUniversal Series

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 8:56am PDT

hulu5__131120195159-275x122The exclusive licensing deal announced today makes Hulu Plus the exclusive destination for all previous seasons of Universal TV’s The Mindy Project and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, with BrooklynNineNine.episodicBravo series like … Read More »

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NBCU Changes Upfront Schedule To Present All Entertainment Nets In One Week

By | Friday March 7, 2014 @ 5:32am PST

NBCUniversal_logo__130703185055NEW YORK, March 7, 2014 – NBCUniversal today announced that, for the first time ever, its entire portfolio of entertainment networks will give their 2014 Upfront presentations during the traditional Upfront week in May. This year, NBCUniversal will surround the “Broadcast Upfront week” which will begin with the NBC Entertainment network presentation on Monday, May 12, at the Javits Center in New York City; followed by a presentation from Telemundo Media at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Center in New York City on Tuesday, May 13; and, closing out the week with a unique presentation on Thursday, May 15 by NBCUniversal’s Cable Entertainment Group at the Javits Center. NBCUniversal’s Cable Entertainment Group will combine its entire family of networks into one presentation on Thursday. Historically, each network held individual presentations to advertising partners throughout the February to May pre-Upfront period.

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Yakub Hazzard Joins NBCU As VP Legal

By | Tuesday March 4, 2014 @ 10:20am PST

In his new role as VP Legal, Yakub Hazzard will behazzard3 handling profit participation litigation and related matters for all of the company’s television businesses, NBCUniversal said today. He will report to Jamie Lichtman, EVP and General Counsel, NBCUniversal … Read More »

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FCC Fines Viacom, ESPN, And NBCU $1.9M For Misuse Of Emergency Alert Sounds: Video

By | Monday March 3, 2014 @ 10:14am PST

Olympus Has FallenThe companies got into trouble after they ran ads for FilmDistrict‘s 2013 thriller Olympus Has Fallen that include the distinctive Emergency Alert System warning sounds, the FCC says today as it proposed what it calls the largest ever penalties for its misuse (watch the ad below). Viacom will be hit hardest with a $1.12M fine for airing the ad 108 times over five days on Spike, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, MTV2, Centric, and BET. NBCUniversal will have to cough up $530,000 for running the ad 38 times over six days on Syfy, USA, and five regional sports networks. And ESPN follows with $280,000 for running the ad 13 times over four days on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS. “The FCC has long prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS Attention Signals or tones in circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test of the EAS system,” the FCC says. The cable companies said that the rules don’t apply to them because they don’t participate in the EAS program, the FCC notice notes. Read More »

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NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Taps Former Disney Exec As VP Communications

By | Wednesday February 19, 2014 @ 10:29am PST

nidia2As VP Communications, Nidia Caceros Kilde is responsible for leading strategic communications for the cable entertainment group’s President and Chief Content Officer, Jeff Wachtel, and the studios under his purview — Universal Cable Prods and Wilshire Studios, including USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, E! Entertainment, Oxygen and Esquire Network. Caceros Kilde is responsible for all consumer and trade media relations on behalf of the studios. Additionally, she’ll work with Cory Shields, EVP Communications, NBCU Cable Entertainment, in developing West Coast communications strategy for the cable portfolio including business affairs. She reports to both Wachtel and Shields. Read More »

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‘Tonight Show’ Will Feature GE In Comedy Routines And Digital Extensions

Looks like GE will be a co-star of sorts in The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the result of what the manufacturing conglom and NBCUniversal refer to as a new “multiplatform, integrated partnership.”Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon The Read More »

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NBCUniversal To Build Tech Center And Lab In New Jersey

By | Monday February 3, 2014 @ 5:31am PST

NBCUniversal_logo__130703185055New York, NY – February 3, 2014 – NBCUniversal today announced the launch of the NBCUniversal Technology Center, a state-of-the-art technology center located in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, which will be the new center for the company’s core technology team, as well as the home of the new Media Labs operation.

The creation of the 63,000 square foot Technology Center represents an investment of approximately $17 million in the company’s New Jersey operations, and serves as a complement to NBCUniversal’s previously announced investments in the infrastructure of its New York operations.

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Dogwoof Sells ‘Blackfish’ Docu To Multiple Territories; BAFTA Awards To Kick Off With Tinie Tempah-Laura Mvula Duet

By | Thursday January 30, 2014 @ 10:00pm PST

Dogwoof Closes Slew Of Deals For ‘Blackfish’ Documentary
BlackfishSales outfit Dogwoof has closed a multi-territory deal with Universal Pictures International Entertainment on 2013 Sundance documentary Blackfish. The territories include Asia, Italy, Portugal, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Scandinavia and Latin America. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the film tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale who killed several people while in captivity. The controversial and popular film was shortlisted in the Oscar documentary category and has a BAFTA nomination this year. Other territories sold by Dogwoof include German- and French-speaking Europe, Spain, The Netherlands, and a multi-territory deal with Netflix.

Tinie Tempah-Laura Mvula Duet Will Open BAFTA Awards
For this year’s musical opening, the BAFTA Awards on February 16 will kick off with a duet by multiplatinum-selling English rapper Tinie Tempah and English soul singer Laura Mvula. The pair will sing the track “Heroes,” which appears on Tempah’s album Demonstration. Not to be confused with the classic David Bowie song, the refrain incorporates the lyrics, ee_bafta_film_awards_logo__130123084922“Here everyone’s a hero/We all got a second chance.” (Heroes are popular this year: two weeks after the BAFTAs, the Oscars will honor big-screen real-life heroes, super heroes, popular heroes and animated heroes, both past and present.) In previous years, the likes of Paloma Faith and Tom Jones have performed ahead of the BAFTA ceremony. Read More »

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NBCU Unveils Plans To Sell Targeted Ads On Comcast Systems

By | Thursday January 30, 2014 @ 8:15am PST

“No other media company today can do this,” NBCUniversal Ad Sales President Linda Yaccarino says of the new initiative called “NBCU+ Powered By Comcast.” NBCUniversal_logo__130703185055The goal is to give national advertisers additional audience data — beyond age and gender — to … Read More »

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NBCU Names Kathy Kelly-Brown SVP Global Talent Booking

By | Wednesday January 29, 2014 @ 8:34am PST

nbcu__130918225737Months ago, when NBC was deciding to move The Tonight Show back to New York, part of the NBCUniversal-think was that it would allow the company to streamline booking of talent across its many talk-show platforms based in New York – also including Late Night, Today, Saturday Night Live, Meredith Vieira’s new show, Watch What Happens Live, Access Hollywood, E! News, etc. Last month, NBC Broadcast chairman Ted Harbert told Deadline that NBCU was working to streamline guest booking across brown3its various celebrity-centric New York-based shows, including the Jimmy Fallon-hosted Tonight. The ability to orchestrate an “event” across multiple programs for a celeb with something to plug would give Tonight a big booking edge over its late-night competition, for example.

Related:  ‘Tonight’s Move To NY May Give NBC More Clout, But Will Digital Make Booking War Obsolete?

Today, less than three weeks before Tonight makes the move, NBCU announced it had promoted Kathy Kelly-Brown to the newly created post of SVP Global Talent Booking, where she will develop “strategic, customized publicity opportunities incorporating the many powerful brands” in the NBCU portfolio. Kelly-Brown will collaborate with producers, bookers and talent execs to “assemble comprehensive publicity opportunities for projects such as upcoming film and television premieres, album releases and book launches.” She will report to NBCU EVP Adam Miller. Read More »

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Comcast Tells Investors Film Spending Will Rise In 2014 As It Prepares 2015 Sequels

Execs put the Street on notice that Universal‘s movie profits may take a hit this year, but for what they see as a good cause: JURASSIC WORLDThey expect healthy returns in 2015 from films including Jurassic World (aka Jurassic Park 4), Fast & Furious 7, The Minions (an animated spinoff of the Despicable Me franchise) and Fifty Shades Of Grey. “It’s a little bit of an up-and-down business,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a conference call with analysts to discuss this morning’s Q4 earnings report. NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke assured them, though, that “we have a very strong year” planned for 2015 and “we’re incurring that investment [in 2014] as we gear up.” CFO Michael Angelakis also said that the productions will “absorb some cash,” but he characterized the increased spending as a kind of normalization, noting that last year Comcast went “lighter on the production spend for the 2014 slate.” The company spent $1.16B on capital expenditures for all of NBCU last year — up $397M from 2012 — with much of it going to Harry Potter and Transformers theme park attractions. It expects the level for NBCU to remain “relatively flat” in 2014, with continuing theme park investments.

Related: Comcast Lifts Stock Buyback And Dividend As Q4 Earnings Miss Analyst Expectations Read More »

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Comcast Lifts Stock Buyback And Dividend As Q4 Earnings Miss Analyst Expectations

By | Tuesday January 28, 2014 @ 4:14am PST

The No. 1 cable operator and owner of NBCUniversal says this morning that it will increase its dividend by 15.4% to 90 cents a share annualized beginning in April, and will boost the share repurchase plan to $7.5B, including $3B in 2014. Comcast-new-logo__130212144603-200x112That news, plus some improving metrics from its cable systems, should impress investors looking at the company’s mixed — although mostly robust — report for Q4. Comcast ended up with net income of nearly $2B, +8.9% vs the period in 2012, on revenues of $16.9B, +6.2%. The net income attributable to Comcast (remember: in 2012 GE still owned 49% of NBCU) was $1.9B, +26%. The revenue figure beat the Street’s consensus forecast for $16.6B. But adjusted earnings at 66 cents a share fell short of projections for 68 cents. NBCUniversal was surprisingly strong with $1.3B in operating cash flow (+14.3%)  on revenues of $6.5B (+7.5%). Filmed Entertainment may be the biggest shock with home video sales of Despicable Me 2 outweighing the downturn in Universal Studios‘ box office sales. Comcast 1The film unit ended up with cash flow of $192M (+127.4%) on revenues of $1.4B (+4.9%). The NBC Broadcast TV unit also exceeded forecasts with cash flow of $140M (+54.8%) on revnues of $2.2B (+11.5%). Comcast attributes that to the 8.3% increase in ad revenues plus growing retransmission consent fees and revenue from content licensing which it says reflects “the timing of content availability.” But cable networks — usually the standout performer — may disappoint with cash flow of $929M (+3.8%) on revenues of $2.3B (+5.3%). While ad sales rose 4.3% and fees from pay TV distributors increased 7.8%, the operation saw a 4.6% drop in content licensing and reports rising costs for new shows, sports rights, and marketing expenses. Meanwhile theme parks turned in predictably solid numbers with cash flow of $257M (+4.6%) on revenues of $566M (+8.8%). CEO Brian Roberts had earlier flagged the big news at his main business — cable systems. Video subscriptions increased by 43,000 to 21.7M, ending a 26 quarter stretch of downturns. “As we begin 2014, we remain excited about our businesses and intend to continue to prudently invest to enhance our strategic differentiation and to drive growth,” he says.

Related:  Comcast: Film Spending Will Rise In 2014 Ahead Of 2015 Sequels

Here’s how today’s reported results look: Read More »

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