/// Mind the Gap: NBCU’s Burke Looks to Make Waves in the Upfront

April 22, 2014  |  Media Week

After spending the better part of the last 10 years at the very bottom of the broadcast ratings hierarchy, NBC is on pace to claim victory for the 2013-14 TV season. As such, the network fully expects to make a killing during the spring/summer upfront bazaar . Speaking to investors during Comcast’s first quarter earnings call, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said the Peacock’s ratings turnaround was unprecedented in the annals of modern television. “We’re going into the upfront with the best position we’ve had in over a decade, primarily driven by NBC,” Burke said. “Last year, NBC was 17 percent behind the leader, which was CBS ; this year, we’re estimating that we’ll finish in first, about 12 percent ahead of No. 2 [Fox]. So … it’s a 29 percent swing. Which, we’ve gone back to the beginning of people meters [and] we can’t find any network that’s swung that much in a year.” Through the first 30 weeks of the season, NBC is in first place with an average 18-49 rating of 2.8, up 17 percent from the year-ago period. Fox is in second with a 2.6, up 4 percent, while CBS is down 20 percent with a 2.4. Heading into the final month of the campaign, ABC will once again finish last among the Big Four, averaging a 2.1 in the demo (down 5 percent). Although it’s only two-tenths of a ratings point, NBC’s lead over Fox is probably insurmountable. That said, a blockbuster performance by Fox’s 24: Live Another Day , which premieres May 5, could make things interesting. While next season falls on a non-Olympic year, NBC will reap the benefit of hosting the Super Bowl in February. Manageable declines for Sunday Night Football and The Voice should allow NBC to raise its CPMs on its franchise properties, although pricing on its Thursday night comedies are likely to continue to lag. Burke said NBC’s growth spurt should serve it well in the upfront marketplace

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Mind the Gap: NBCU’s Burke Looks to Make Waves in the Upfront

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