NBC Universal (US)

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NBC Universal was created in 2004 from the acquisition of the Universal Studios movie and theme park business by television network NBC. For more than two decades, NBC had been a subsidiary of industrial giant General Electric, but disappointing performance by the merged business persuaded GE finally to cut its losses at the end of 2009. It agreed to transfer a controlling stake in the business to cable provider Comcast. That deal completed at the beginning of 2011, and Comcast bought out the remaining shares during 2013. NBC is still probably America's most celebrated television network but it rather lost its way after 2005. Historically the #1 or #2 network by ratings as a result of hit shows such as Friends, ER and The West Wing, NBC struggled for years to find new series to replace those long-running audience favourites. There has been a striking return to form under Comcast's ownership with NBC rebounding from bottom place among the Big Four networks to #1 in the highly prized 18-49 adult demographic. NBC Universal also controls a number of regional and cable stations which meshed well with Comcast's existing portfolio.

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Telemundo Oxygen
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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Sep 2017: As the New York Times pointed out, "It was inevitable that a streaming service would win an Emmy for best drama at some point. But no one expected Hulu to get there first." Despite a huge marketing campaign, Netflix was pipped to the post in almost all of the major categories in the US Emmy Awards. The most prestigious drama awards were mostly scooped by Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale, while NBC's Saturday Night Live cleaned up in comedy, winning the prize for best variety sketch series for the first time in two decades. As usual, though, HBO took home the most awards overall, its 16th such sweep. Including creative arts categories not covered in the telecast, HBO took home 29 trophies, including for Veep, Big Little Lies and The Night Of. Netflix was by no means empty-handed at 20, including important nods for Black Mirror and The Crown. The big losers were once again the broadcast networks. Only NBC collected awards in the main awards show; there were none for telecast host CBS, ABC or Fox. That gradual shift of the Emmys (like the Oscars before them) away from mass-market entertainment towards niche or "arthouse" content has also prompted a significant decline in viewers of the awards show. This year's telecast attracted a record low of 3.22m adults in the 18-49 demo, down 10% on last year.

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Jun 2017: The US TV season officially ended last week, crowning CBS and NBC as the top two networks. CBS was the most watched by total viewers for the 9th consecutive year, and for the 14th time out of the past 15 seasons. NBC was the leader in primetime for the third time in four years, mainly as a result of its dominance in sports. Its Sunday Night Football was the most watched show for the 6th consecutive season, with an average of 19.75m total viewers. CBS's The Big Bang Theory celebrated its 10th season as the most watched scripted show yet again, with an extraordinary 18.99m viewers. CBS averaged a total 9.6m viewers across the season as a whole, ahead of NBC on 8.1m. ABC was third with 6.2m while Fox came bottom with 5.8m. However, the Murdoch-controlled network was the #2 network among the 18-49 age group, behind NBC. CBS and ABC took 3rd and 4th place.

Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Feb 2017: NBC is expanding its presence in Europe with the acquisition of a 25% shareholding in Paris-based cable channel Euronews, which reaches almost 300m homes across the region. The price tag is around $30m, and the channel is expected to brand as Euronews NBC. Back home, with the current broadcast season more than half completed, NBC remains the top-rated channel among primetime 18-49 viewers, averaging 3.1m viewers for the season to-date. The Super Bowl lifted Fox into 2nd place with 3.0m viewers, ahead of CBS at 2.52m and ABC on 2.11m. As usual, CBS holds the top spot by total viewers because of its generally older audience. It averages 10.2m to-date, followed by NBC (8.95m), Fox (7.29m) and ABC in bottom place again on 6.37m.

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Jan 2017: Fox News' #2 anchor Megyn Kelly is to leave the company after accepting a new contract from NBC. Kelly's star is currently at an all-time high after her widely publicised battles with Donald Trump during 2016, and publication of her best-selling memoir. She is said to have declined a $20m contract to stay with Fox News, accepting a lower but arguably more prestigious - certainly more challenging - offer from NBC. Under the new arrangement she will launch a new daytime TV talk show for NBC, as well as her own Sunday evening news magazine to rival CBS's 60 Minutes. Both projects carry significant risks - several other news anchors have tried and failed to establish a presence in daytime or to better 60 Minutes. Insiders have suggested that NBC might also choose to deploy Kelly in other major network events, such as elections or the Olympics.

Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Nov 2016: Comcast's NBC Universal division almost doubled its investment in digital news service BuzzFeed, investing another $200m to lift its holding from 13% to 25%. The deal values BuzzFeed at $1.7bn. Under the enhanced arrangement, NBCU will also play a lead role selling advertising on BuzzFeed and will work more closely on content creation and production. "Over the past year, BuzzFeed has proven to be a valuable partner across our business," said Maggie Suniewick, president of NBCU Digital Enterprises. "From the Olympics to the record-breaking launch of Secret Life of Pets, BuzzFeed has helped us engage millennial audiences with our content and extend the reach of our clients' campaigns to new platforms. We are looking forward to using the power of our brands to collaborate in more innovative ways that drive value for both companies."


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Background

Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: The National Broadcasting Company was established in 1926 by Radio Corporation of America, then a division of General Electric. RCA was primarily a manufacturer of commercial wireless radio sets, which had become one of the fastest-selling products of the decade. NBC was formed to produce professional programming for this rapidly growing audience. A year later, the company set up a sister network alongside NBC, under the name The Blue Network, to provide an alternative choice of programming. However in 1930, as a result of an anti-trust ruling from the US government, GE was obliged to sell off its stake in RCA. 

Under the control of mogul David Sarnoff, the newly independent company spent much of the 1930s exploring the television market, launching the first regular broadcasting service in 1939. However the government became increasingly concerned by NBC's dominance in this fast-growing market, and stepped in again, forcing RCA to sell off one of its two networks in 1943. The Blue Network was spun off as an entirely separate business, and was renamed the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), now part of Disney.

The 1950s proved boom years for the television industry, as it finally became a mass medium, cracking the hold of the cinema on family audiences. Advertising revenues soared. But after leading the way throughout the 1950s and 1960s, RCA's performance slumped during the 1970s as its NBC network was overtaken in ratings by rivals CBS and ABC. In the 1980s the network reinvented itself with a string of hit series including Miami Vice, Cheers and The Cosby Show. As a result of a change of regulations, General Electric was allowed to reacquire RCA in 1986, but as a result of continuing poor performance in the company's radio network, the RCA name and its radio stations were sold two years later. NBC experienced another slump in the early 1990s, but once again rebounded mid-decade with Seinfeld, Frasier, Friends and ER. Also in the 1990s, NBC established cable networks CNBC and MSNBC, and later took stakes in internet services Snap.com and CNET. However NBC Internet, a separate division spun off in 1999 to develop online content, was one of the first online businesses to suffer from the digital downturn, and was ultimately absorbed back into the main network in 2001.

Towards the end of 2001, NBC announced it would acquire US-based Hispanic broadcaster Telemundo Communications for $2.7bn in a mix of cash and stock. The following year the company achieved a long-cherished ambition, acquiring an arts and entertainment channel which it could use for programming considered too edgy or adult for its main network. It acquired the Bravo channel from Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision, for around $1.25bn in cash and shares. 

In 2003, the network extended its hold over broadcasting of the Olympics, agreeing a $2.2bn bid for rights to the Winter Olympics in 2010, and the Summer Olympics 2012. The fee was around 30% higher than the sum it agreed for the 2006/2008 games. But the group also faced the difficult task of finding replacements for its long-running hit comedy shows Friends and Frasier, both of which aired their final shows in 2004. NBC responded by broadening its offering, agreeing a deal to acquire the substantial film, cable and theme park assets formerly known as Vivendi Universal Entertainment. After several weeks of exclusive negotiations, the $14bn deal to acquire Universal was confirmed in October 2003, and closed the following May. 

Long-serving chairman-CEO Bob Wright retired in February 2007 and was replaced by Jeff Zucker, formerly CEO of NBC Universal Television Group. Zucker held that role until the takeover by Comcast. See full profile for current activities


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