NBCUniversal reached an important milestone last May, when it began to integrate anonymized Comcast set-top box data into ATP, commingling over-the-top viewership data with NBC first-party and third-party data sets. The process is ongoing.
“We’re being very aggressive in introducing products that allow clients to scale in reaching target audiences across all screens,” Radin said. “NBCUx represents audiences on a digital basis, ATP represents it on a linear basis and Social Sync does it across social. There are, of course, legacies of the business that will evolve over time, but the goal is to reach audiences irrespective of screen.”
Data was a hallmark of the 2015-2016 upfronts and of NBC’s rollout of offerings like ATP, but some buyers claimed networks used proprietary audience targeting as a bargaining chip to negotiate higher CPMs.
Not necessarily so, said Swift, who added that digital and broadcast sellers are beginning to tip the scale in their respective specialties.
Traditionally, TV lacked the data targeting precision of digital while digital, conversely, played second fiddle to broadcast in terms of splashy or original, premium content. That's changing.
NBCUniversal’s recent investments in new media publishers Vox and BuzzFeed, as well as content syndication agreements with Verizon and AOL, point to its pursuit of convergence.
While digital, mobile and other growth drivers such as video on demand are additive to NBC’s overall business, the concept of the upfront is not going away anytime soon.
“We have very significant commitments from other clients through our legacy business, but scarcity begets a model like the upfronts and we hang our hat on the differentiation of our product in terms of volume, quality and scale,” Radin said. “In that sense, it is a scarce resource, requiring some level of commitment in order to get some position within that inventory.”