NBCUniversal Closes Upfront Sales With Pricing Gains for Broadcast Prime Time and Late Night

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NBCUniversal closed out its upfront advertising sales with a 5 percent increase in volume and single-digit pricing gains over the entire portfolio.

“Underscoring the importance and value of all this great content to advertisers, we just completed another outstanding upfront, with high single-digit pricing gains, coupled with 5 percent growth in volume commitments,” said Brian Roberts, CEO of NBCU parent Comcast, during the company’s second-quarter earnings call on Thursday.

For primetime and late night on the NBC broadcast network, NBCU saw pricing gains between 11 and 13 percent on a CPM basis — the cost for reaching 1,000 viewers.

Also Read: CW Closes Upfront Sales as ‘Black Lightning,’ New Sunday Night Block Drive Volume Gains

MSNBC had the strongest growth of any of NBCU’s channels, with a 30 percent increase in demand from advertisers, outpacing the entire marketplace for it’s best year-over-year growth. Coming off its first-ever World Cup, Spanish-language network Telemundo continued to encroach on Univision’s turf, netting $16 million in new business, a 3 percent increase from last year. 

NBC saw a market-leading CPM increase of 7 percent for its NFL slate, while its cable networks all delivered high single-digit CPM increases.

Advertiser demand was driven by NBC’s  “This Is Us,” “Today Show,” and Bravo’s upcoming “Dirty John.”

NBC also got full buy-in from advertisers for their new CFlight metric, which measures live, on-demand and time-shifted commercial impressions of episodes on every platform. It also sold out of its new, 60-second “prime pod” for “This Is Us” and “The Voice.” These feature advertising targeted based on audience demographics vs the usual age and gender breakdowns that Nielsen provides.

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Fox Wraps Upfront Ad Sales as ‘Thursday Night Football’ Drives Volume, Pricing Gains

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Fox closed its upfront sales on Friday with gains in both pricing and volume thanks to its new “Thursday Night Football” franchise and continued interest in “The Simpsons.”

Much of the increased demand was due to the network’s new “Thursday Night Football” schedule, and NFL sales were driving force behind Fox Sports’ entire portfolio. In primetime, last year’s hit freshman drama “9-1-1,” “Empire” and “The Simpsons” saw increased demand from advertisers. Fox also attributed the gains to upcoming series “The Passage,” “Proven Innocent” and “Rel,” along with its live production of “Rent” and its “Cosmos” follow up “Possible Worlds.”

Fox scored CPM increases — the cost for reaching 1,000 viewers — in the high single-digits for broadcast primetime, though the network wouldn’t say exactly how much. An insider with knowledge of negotiations told TheWrap that it falls somewhere between nine and 10 percent. Overall demand for ad space was higher with volume up “significantly” though Fox would not divulge how much.

The Fox Network Group, which includes cable networks like FX and National Geographic (at least until they’re sold off to either Disney or Comcast), saw increased demand as well. Fox’s digital properties also increased ad revenue by double digits. The network has sold out the entire inventory of its new JAZ pods, commercial breaks that feature only two ads, for the whole season.

Also Read: CW Closes Upfront Sales as ‘Black Lightning,’ New Sunday Night Block Drive Volume Gains

Fox is deploying these shorter ad breaks for certain programming blocks, including some Sunday nights, as well as other shows such as FX’s New York Times series, “The Weekly.” For the second straight year, FX will lead the market in ad sales for cable networks.

As with The CW, which finished its upfront sales last Friday, Fox wrapped its ad sales weeks ahead compared to a year ago. The network wouldn’t say how much of its overall ad inventory it has sold for the 2018-19 season.

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CW Closes Upfront Sales as ‘Black Lightning,’ New Sunday Night Block Drive Volume Gains

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The CW became the first broadcast network to wrap its upfront advertising sales on Friday, with “Black Lightning” and its new Sunday night block leading to increased demand, an insider with knowledge of negotiations told TheWrap.

Overall, the network has sold roughly 80 percent of its inventory for the 2018-19 season.

The CW scored CPM increases — the cost for reaching 1,000 viewers — in the low double-digits, roughly between 10-11 percent, according to the insider. Overall demand for ad space was higher, as volume was up 15 percent. A year ago, the network only saw volume increases between 3 to 5 percent.

Also Read: The CW Boss on Starting Up Sundays Again: We Wanted ‘Shows That Empowered Women’

The network finished its upfront commitments about two weeks earlier compared to last year.

Much of the increased demand was due to the network’s new Sunday night block of programming, along with increased demand for “Black Lightning,” “Riverdale” and the network’s new fare including “All American” and its “Charmed” reboot. Airing on Sunday night’s this fall will be the aforementioned “Charmed” along with the hit DC-comics series “Supergirl.”

This was the eighth consecutive year of The CW selling its inventory on a multi platform basis, rather than simply offering commercial spots during the shows’ primetime air dates.

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Upfront Wrap-Up: TV Network Chiefs Grapple With Uncertain Advertising Environment

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If you strip away all the glitz, glamour, buzzy new show trailers and jokes from this long week of upfront presentations, what you’ll see is a bunch of network executives simply trying to keep their heads above water in this ever-changing TV industry.

In fact, it may have been ESPN’s Kenny Mayne who unintentionally spouted out what many in the TV industry could use as their mantra: “I don’t know how the hell we’re going to do it, but I’ll be working on it.”

Faced with declining linear television ratings (NBC, thanks to the Super Bowl, was the only network that saw any improvement this season in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic) and no end in sight to cord-cutting, network chiefs spent the past week trying to put advertiser fears at rest.

Also Read: CW Upfront: 5 Takeaways from the Network’s (Very Short) Presentation to Advertisers

But at least there is one thing that both advertisers and media companies can agree on: The way TV audiences are measured has to change.

“I still cannot believe I have to get up on this stage and talk about legacy measurement,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising sales and client partnerships, NBCUniversal, during the company’s presentation at Radio City Music Hall on Monday morning. “Aren’t we all tired of letting inertia rule our industry?”

But changing the way an entire industry has done business for decades can feel like trying to steer the Titanic away from that iceberg. They have to hope they turned the wheel early enough.

Also Read: CW’s Annual DC Crossover Will Include Batwoman, Visit Gotham City

“Let’s stop trying to measure everything using Nielsen. We’re so beyond that,” Barry Lowenthal, president of ad agency, The Media Kitchen, told TheWrap this week. “We measured exposure because we couldn’t do anything better than that.”

Nielsen has tried to include viewing on non-TV platforms with its Total Audience Delivery, but that measurement has so far failed to catch on with buyers and sellers. That has lead to the networks trying to come up with an answer themselves.

“The audience is there, we’re just simply not measuring them,” Kevin Reilly, Turner Entertainment Networks chief operating officer, argued to reporters following Turner’s upfront on Wednesday. “If you want to reach an audience on TV, which still is highly effective, nobody would debate it. What’s not effective is this measurement.”

Also Read: Stephen Colbert Mocks CBS’ Reboot Fever, Ugly Legal Battle With Viacom at Net’s Upfront

Although there has been a push towards “audience-based” buying, the majority of TV advertising is still purchased against Nielsen’s C3 metric, which measures how many viewers were tuned into the program during the commercial breaks, for up to three days after the broadcast. Yaccarino noted it was 11 years ago that the decision was made to use C3 as the main currency, back when “we used flip phones.”

But another media buyer told TheWrap that the solution shouldn’t be left exclusively to those doing the selling. “While some acknowledged the measurement is broken, not sure the rhetoric or solutions being showcased by the sellers is the answer,” said Shari Cohen, executive director of media investments for Mindshare.

The advent of streaming networks like Netflix and Hulu have trained viewers to expect fewer commercials, or none at all. That has had a domino effect on linear TV. Turner was among the first media companies that decided to cut back on the number of commercials it airs, and since then other networks like NBC and Fox have followed suit.

Also Read: ABC Upfront: 6 Takeaways From Lincoln Center Presentation to Advertisers

Fox unveiled its new plan for cutting back ad loads this season, introducing its new “JAZ Pods.” While that sounds like incomprehensible ad jargon, it simply means that for some of its shows, the commercial breaks will only have two ads, just the “A” and “Z” slots that run next to the actual program.

Joe Marchese, during Fox’s upfront, said that this new format will be used on a variety of Fox broadcast and cable channels, including FX’s new New York Times series “The Weekly” and certain Sunday nights on the broadcast network next season. He said this would be bring down the total of commercials by as much as 60 percent.

Reilly said he’s glad to see other networks follow their lead. “It has to happen, and we have to continue it,” he said of making the linear TV environment less commercial heavy. “TV has got to get to that place where there is less clutter, and that will be more effective for advertisers.”

The fact is, despite the confidence network executives shared on the upfront stage this week, nobody really knows where the media industry is headed. “We’re entering Mordor,” said Lowenthal. “What’s on the other side?”

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CW Upfront: 5 Takeaways from the Network’s (Very Short) Presentation to Advertisers

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

As usual, The CW batted last during upfront week, showing off its new slate Thursday morning at the New York City Center.

But network president Mark Pedowitz ended this week-long slog of presentations for ad buyers (and reporters) with the best present possible gift: An upfront that lasted under an hour. The brief show featured trailers for new series “All American,” “In the Dark” and their reboots for “Charmed” and “Roswell,” as well as a bit of news for its “Arrow-verse” (more on that below), but sadly no Gina Rodriguez.

Read TheWrap’s five takeaways from the final upfront presentation of 2018 below.

Also Read: ‘Designated Survivor’: Netflix Is in Talks to Pick Up ABC Drama After Cancellation

Holy contractually obligated performance, Batman

It just wouldn’t be a CW upfront without a rock band to kick off the proceedings. And this year it was 30 Seconds to Mars (who feature a fairly famous lead singer in Jared Leto) to delight the crowd with a pair of new singles, including “Walk on Water” and, what many weary ad buyers have probably thought after this long week, “Rescue Me.”

“We’re the early morning breakfast band,” said Leto, who added what anyone would say after having to play loud music at 11 a.m. “This is not rock ‘n’ roll hours.”

Taye Diggs slams his former shows?

Taye Diggs, one of the costars of drama “All American,” appeared to throw some shade at his former TV gigs. Though he didn’t call anyout by name, he told the crowd that, though he’s been on an upfront stage many times before, “this is the first time that I’ve actually been proud.”

Ouch. Let’s hope he won’t have to take that back if he finds himself on another upfront stage next year.

Also Read: Fox Upfront: 7 Takeaways From Beacon Theatre Presentation to Advertisers

Puppy love

In introducing CW’s “In the Dark,” a show about a blind woman and her guide dog, Pedowitz referenced the networks’ CW Good initiative and its work with Guide Dogs of America. Before running the trailer for “In the Dark,” Pedowitz showed off a brief clip of puppies. “This is just a shameless excuse to show you these puppies again,” he admitted. While Perry Mattfield was able to come on stage after the trailer, she had to go solo because the dog, was unfortunately, not in attendance.

Heading to Gotham City

The CW did not have a new DC Comics-inspired series to show off this year, but the network is still had a new superhero to unveil. Stephen Amell, who kicked off CW’s “Arrowverse” with “Arrow,” was on stage to announce that the network will finally head to Gotham City (just don’t expect the Caped Crusader to show up … yet). For its annual four-series crossover event, the CW will also introduce Batwoman, although we don’t know yet who will play her.

Pedowitz also touted the performance of its rookie drama “Black Lightning” and brought out the cast, including star Cress Williams. “It’s a gift for all of us to be in Black Lightning,” Williams told the crowd. “An African American superhero striking a cord with audiences all around the world it’s a powerful thing.”

Also Read: NBC Upfront: 9 Takeaways From Big Radio City Music Hall Sales Pitch

CW has some “pun” promoting its new Sunday lineup

The CW wants you to know that’s primetime lineup will extend to Sundays next season. Like really know. How? Well, as attendees were exiting the building, there were numerous people passing out Sundaes.

Get it?

That’s a wrap from the 2018 upfronts, now we wait until the fall (or midseason) to see which of these shows will be back this time around next year.

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CW Upfront Presentation: Live Blog

Read on: Deadline.

CW’s Upfront presentation today winds up the broadcast TV portion of the week, at New York City Center.  CW chief Mark Pedowitz will walk media buyers through network’s expansion to six nights a week, with the add of a Sunday slate, for 12 …

Les Moonves Jokes About Messy Legal Drama at CBS Upfront: ‘How’s Your Week Been?’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

CBS held court at New York City’s Carnegie Hall on Wednesday afternoon for the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers, meaning we’re officially in the home stretch of upfront week.

CBS’ upfront began with the usual bit from sales chief Jo Ann Ross — this year we saw “Young Jo Ann” ride in the car with the “Young Sheldon” cast including Ian Armitage and Zoe Perry, who then joined her on stage. CBS aired trailers for new series including “The Neighborhood” (more on that below), “FBI” “Happy Together,” “God Friended Me” and its reboot of “Magnum P.I.”

Read below for six takeaways from CBS’ presentation this afternoon.

Also Read: CBS Exec on ‘Murphy Brown’ Reboot Ratings: ‘I’m Not Sure We’ll Get ‘Roseanne’ Numbers’

After morning no-show, Les takes the stage

Usually it’s not a big deal when the chief executive of CBS shows up at the upfront, but considering the corporate drama CBS and Shari Redstone’s National Amusements are currently embroiled in, it was a bit more noteworthy. Moonves skipped this morning’s pre-upfront breakfast, but following a video introduction with John Malkovich, he was given a standing ovation as he came out on stage.

“Good afternoon, everyone! Thank you, thank you. How about that John Malkovich? People say I’m scary. So, how’s your week been?” he said, quickly addressing the elephant in the room.

Around the same time a Delaware court granted CBS and Moonves a temporary restraining order against Shari Redstone and her holding company, National Amusements.

Through National Amusements, Redstone owns roughly 79 percent of the voting power in CBS and Viacom, which she has been trying to push to merge.

The restraining order will prevent Redstone and National Amusements from getting involved in CBS’ dealings while the media company decides what permanent action it wants to take to diminish Redstone’s control over the company.

“Anyway, for years I’ve told you I’m only out here for a few minutes, and this year, perhaps, for the first time, I actually mean it,” added CBS’ top exec on the upfront stage.

Murphy Brown welcomed back

Although there was no trailer for its “Murphy Brown” revival, CBS aired a “where are they now” clip that showed what Candace Bergen’s character and the rest of her “FYI” news team have been up to the past 20 years. Bergen and the rest of the original cast, including her now-adult “son” Jake McDormand, briefly took the stage as well.

“It’s so great to have the gang back together,” said Bergen. “We’re really sorry it took so long between season 10 and 11.”

Also Read: Why CBS Killed the Comma for Its ‘Magnum PI’ Reboot

Re-casting can be awkward

CBS’ first new series trailer was the Cedric the Entertainer starring “The Neighborhood,” and while it looked fine enough, there was one small problem: Josh Lawson, who played the role of Dave Johnson in the pilot, is being replaced by Max Greenfield. This isn’t the first time CBS has played a trailer featuring an ousted lead (anyone remember when they ran “Man With a Plan” with Jenna Fischer?). Honestly the whole thing was a bit awkward.

John Malkovich was cursing and confused by advertising lingo 

CBS may air on broadcast TV, but at its upfront, it took page of sister cable network Showtime and let the curse words fly. During the pre-taped video with Malkovich, he dropped a slew of F bombs. His best one was probably something every ad executive in the audience has uttered at least once or twice. “What the f—- is addressable TV?”

Also Read: CBS Fall Schedule: ‘Murphy Brown’ Booked for Thursdays, ‘Magnum PI’ on Mondays

Stephen Colbert has a warning for Steve Bannon

If you’re a TV network has a late night host, by upfront week law (we think) you have to trot that host out to make jokes to the ad buyers in the audience. CBS brought out “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert to joke about his own network’s new obsession with revivals, that messy legal battle with Viacom, and, of course, get in some jabs at his least favorite presidential administration of all time.

After welcoming ad buyers and any former Trump officials that were looking for jobs with CBS, he had a word of warning for Steve Bannon.

“‘The Amazing Race’ is not what you think it’s about.” In referencing how much has changed since he came out on this same stage a year ago: “You had no excuse if you were caught googling Stormy Daniels.”

Read more of Colbert’s best jokes here.

James Corden has a pitch

Not satisfied with one late night host, CBS brought its other late night host in James Corden, who used his three minutes on stage to pitch his own series. “If I’m honest, everybody has said it sucks but they’re wrong.” So he decided to go straight to the money. The pitch: Young Corden. As described by Corden, it’s a crime procedural that takes place in a sexy hospital, so basically every single CBS jammed into one.

In “pitching” the show, Corden touted that it combines the two hottest things right now: “A chubby friendly guy and stealing someone else’s idea.” And don’t worry, there is a part for Rob Lowe.

“Of course there is, what are we idiots?”

That’s a wrap from Carnegie Hall, now off to see if they let Moonves into the after-party at The Plaza Hotel. We’ll see you tomorrow for the CW and their DC Comics superheroes.

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Turner Asserts Its Reach Beyond TV Screen, Advertising Innovation: “We’re In This Together” — Upfronts

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At Turner’s annual upfront at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, company head Kevin Reilly and ad-sales chief Donna Speciale emphasized the Turner networks’ reach beyond the TV screen and its efforts to reinvent the traditional TV advert…

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ABC Upfront: 6 Takeaways From Lincoln Center Presentation to Advertisers

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

ABC capped off upfront week’s “Disney Day” with its presentation to advertisers at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall in New York City on Tuesday afternoon.

The network opened its show with an “American Idol”-themed bit that saw judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan decide which ABC star gets to open the show (it was, of course, Roseanne Barr). Jimmy Kimmel returned after a year off to roast ABC … and pretty much everyone else. And it just wouldn’t be an upfront without trailers, and there were plenty, as ABC showed off footage from multiple new series including “The Kids Are Alright,” “A Million Little Things,” “Single Parents” and “The Rookie.”

“American Idol” also closed the show, with Ryan Seacrest present to promote the season finale, and the finalists joining Bebe Rexha as she performed “Meant to Be.”

Read below for six things we observed from our perch at the Lincoln Center.

Also Read: ABC Boss Talks Losing ‘Last Man Standing’ to Fox, ‘Roseanne’ Moving Away From Politics in Season 2

Freeform crashes the party

ABC made a slight tweak to its upfront this year by bringing its sister cable network Freeform along the ride. Roughly 30 minutes into the presentation, Freeform president Tom Ascheim took the stage and told ad buyers in the crowd, “If you’ve come here to learn about killer mermaids, you’re in the right place” — referring to mermaid thriller, “Siren.” During the network’s 20 minutes on stage, it aired trailers for new series “Cloak & Dagger” and its “Pretty Little Liars” spinoff, “The Perfectionists,” and brought out “Grown-ish” star Yara Shahidi.

Ascheim also took the opportunity to take a few shots at the network’s rivals, touting their ability to reach young people. “Our competitors often use shortcuts, opting for crude instead of clever and gross instead of great.” They also talked about Christmas programming for some reason, even though it was nearly 90 degrees in New York on Tuesday.

ESPN executives, including new president Jimmy Pitaro and ad sales chief Ed Erhardt, also got their requisite shout outs.

Also Read: ABC Shifts ‘Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’ to Summer

Fun with numbers

ABC may be tied with Fox for third place in the 18-49 ratings race this season, but if you hear ABC execs say it: They’re in first place … in other ways. ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey threw out a lot of stats that make ABC look great. They’re the #1 network in delayed viewing (Live + 35 … how far away are we from Live+Infinity?), six years running as the most social network and “American Idol” was the #1 reality series on social every Monday. That’s the fun thing about numbers: You can manufacture them so everybody is a winner!

We should point out that Ben Sherwood gave out another stat that made ABC look both good and bad, when touting how “Roseanne” was the top show on TV this season. “The last time we had the number one show was 24 years ago, that’s some cool amount of trivia that we chose not to mention in the last 24 years.”

Also Read: ABC Fall Schedule: ‘The Kids Are Alright’ to Follow ‘Roseanne’; ‘FOTB’ and ‘Speechless’ Sent to Friday

Speaking of “Roseanne”

Outside of Barr’s introduction of Disney Media Networks co-chairman Ben Sherwood as “the guy who really writes most of my tweets,” there wasn’t much stage time for ABC’s big hit show. That didn’t mean the Conners didn’t have a presence however, as executives were all-too-happy to tout the success of the show… multiple times. John Goodman also provided the voiceover for a new ad campaign for ABC News.

Nathan Fillion knows he’s your mom’s favorite

No stranger to ABC’s upfront stage, Nathan Fillion was one of the few stars ABC trotted out this afternoon, which he was there to promote his new series “The Rookie.” A longtime veteran of shows that aired on ABC including daytime soap “One Life to Live,” “Desperate Housewives” and costarring in “Castle” for eight seasons, Fillion was hoping he’d be easily recognizable to the ad buyers in the audience. Or, as he put it, he knew he was the favorite of everyone’s mom.

Also Read: Watch Trailers for ABC’s New Fall TV Shows: ‘The Rookie,’ ‘Single Parents,’ ‘The Kids Are Alright’ (Videos)

Jimmy Kimmel makes his triumphant return

After sitting out last year, Jimmy Kimmel returned to the upfront stage for what Sherwood called their “annual act of ritual network executive humiliation.” After Kimmel came out, he was at first gracious to the crowd for the support for his son (he had to miss last year to take care of the newborn). “I’m happy to report Billy is now a year old,” he said, which got a nice applause from the audience. “You’ll be happy to know he’s doing much much better than network television.” He also took a crack at ABC’s new upfront partner in Freeform: “I’ve been a big Freeform fan since I heard of it 20 minutes ago.”

There were plenty more barbs from Kimmel, which you can read here.

Trivia Time

ABC took a page out of the movie theaters’ playbook, by welcoming attendees with some trivia on its big screen. A few of the highlights: Did you know that “Roseanne” (in case you didn’t know it was on ABC) was initially going to be called “Life and Stuff?” The title change was probably a good idea. Also, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” has given out $15 million in cash over its 28-season run.

We’ll see you Carnegie Hall for CBS tomorrow.

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ABC Boss Talks Losing ‘Last Man Standing’ to Fox, ‘Roseanne’ Moving Away From Politics in Season 2

ABC Shifts ‘Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’ to Summer

NBC Upfront: 9 Things Scene and Heard at Big Radio City Music Hall Sales Pitch

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The 2018 broadcast upfronts are officially upon us, and NBC just wrapped its big Radio City Music Hall sales pitch to potential advertisers. There was a little something for everyone — especially if you’re between the ages of 18 and 49.

NBCUniversal began its annual event with a star-studded musical parody. Unfortunately, not everybody (TheWrap included) got to see it from never-ending line down 50th Street. More on that in a bit.

The suite of networks spent the next 120 minutes or so showing off new series like “Abby’s” (pictured above) “New Amsterdam,” “The Titan Games,” “Deadly Class,” “Treadstone,” and “Very Cavallari,” to name just a handful.

Read on below for 9 things we observed from the beginning of a very long week in New York City.

Also Read: Ratings: ‘Timeless’ Rises in Season 2 Finale – But Is It Enough to Save NBC Series?

Blurred Lines
The long, snaking line to enter NBC’s upfront was a disaster this year. This reporter showed up around 10 a.m., which should have afforded plenty of time to get in and comfy for the 10:30 event, but many of us didn’t even enter the building until about 45 minutes later.

All of that line-cutting straight out of 30 Rock certainly didn’t help — but that sort if thing is to be expected in this business, we suppose.

Also Read: Seth Meyers’ Best NBC Upfront Jokes Skewer ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Pickup, Matt Lauer Scandal

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
TheWrap found its seat in time to see the gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s Hockey Team rise from a hydraulic platform beneath the stage.

Yes, the PyeongChang champs got both the pageantry and the standing ovation they deserved — it would be the only such upright applause of the morning. (To be fair, a standing O is not a standard response for performances — but patriotism changes everything.)

Also Read: ‘Manifest,’ ‘New Amsterdam’ and ‘I Feel Bad’: Watch Trailers for NBC’s New Fall Shows (Video)

Warm Open
The Peacock opened its upfront presentation Monday with a pre-taped sketch of NBC stars like Kristen Bell, Sean Hayes, Jimmy Fallon, Ted Danson and (as much as they tried to stop her) Debra Messing singing a parody song about the dog and pony show, set to “Mamma Mia!”

It was a decent-enough bit that CEO Steve Burke admitted was some “shameless self promotion” for the upcoming Universal Pictures sequel. Burke then got right down to rattling off all the reasons why the network and its studio are still No. 1, including its ratings, the Olympics, and how prepared NBC is for the changing landscape of broadcast TV.

Also Read: NBC’s Bob Greenblatt on ‘The Office’ Reboot Rumors: ‘Probably Best I Don’t Talk About It’

Wristbands Not Explained to Half of Us
We were all given digital wristbands upon entering the aforementioned terrible line. Apparently, they were used to vote on a choosing a new televised category for the upcoming People’s Choice Awards.

Unfortunately, a number of us were never told that nor asked to vote. NBC probably gave up on that notion at 10:30 a.m. when the show was supposed to start and half their audience was still on 50th Street.

Those actually connected to whatever scary tech this was saw their bracelets alternate light-up colors as an interactive(ish) part of the rest of the program. Ours just sat there on our wrists, (appropriately) dead.

Also Read: NBC’s Fall Schedule: ‘Manifest’ to Follow ‘The Voice,’ ‘New Amsterdam’ Scores ‘This Is Us’ Lead-In

“Happy” Was Kinda Sad
Though the Syfy series “Happy’s” animated pre-taped bit fell a bit flat (it wasn’t bad, just maybe not for this audience), stars Chris Meloni and Patton Oswalt were well-received by the media buyers and advertisers in attendance.

After the comic called out his actor friend for a particularly rough teleprompter read, the good sport Meloni’s face glowed redder than the upholstered Radio City Music Hall seat cushions.

Also Read: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Season 6: Fans Will Have to Wait Until Midseason for NBC Premiere

“Late Night,” Early Morning
The crowd at Radio City Musical Hall was anything but tough when “Late Night” host Seth Meyers took the stage to deliver a monologue filled with cracks about the Peacock.

The quips included references to the network’s 11th hour “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” pickup one day after its Fox cancellation. (“I have to say, for NBC this upfronts week got off to a dramatic start when NBC picked up ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ after Fox canceled it. Yeah, fantastic news for a great show. But it still feels a little bit like NBC is Fox’s deadbeat friend. ‘Hey, uh, you gonna finish that? Can I have it?’”) Meyers also referenced the recently released report about NBCU’s investigation into ousted “Today” show host Matt Lauer. (“It’s not surprising for NBC to be dramatic, we are home to the No. 1 drama on television. A show that each week gives us twists and turns, heartbreaking reveals, and this season the departure of a once-beloved character. I’m talking of course of, ‘This Is the Today Show.’”)

Get even more punchlines here.

Also Read: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Save: ‘We Jumped on It Really Quickly,’ NBC Chief Bob Greenblatt Says

First Upfront, Simon?
“America’s Got Talent” reigning champion Darci Lynne Farmer brought out her Simon Cowell puppet for a short (non-singing) ventriloquism skit, which was used to intro the real-life Cowell. The “American Idol” alum lingered on stage for way too long and fell flat in his presentation — though he did deliver a solid Paula Abdul joke early on.

“After 18 years of being on TV, I’m now a puppet,” Cowell said. “Now I know how Paula felt.”

Also Read: 16 Highest-Rated Canceled or Ending TV Shows of 2017-18 Season – So Far (Photos)

Well, the Bass Works
NBCUniversal ended its annual upfront presentation with a loud-as-hell “World of Dance” performance. Holy bass — we’d say the speakers work, Radio City audio guys.

Each of the show’s judges got their turn on stage, with Jennifer Lopez headlining the extended routine and landing the biggest reaction from those in attendance (who hadn’t walked out yet to save their ears). Yes, J. Lo’s reception was even bigger than the one for a shirtless Derek Hough.

Also Read: Peak MD? NBC’s ‘New Amsterdam’ Series Order Makes 6 Medical Dramas on Broadcast TV

The Rock Doesn’t Rock the House
Apparently unable to attend today’s pitch, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sent in a pre-taped video package from Los Angeles promoting his large-scale upcoming NBC competition series, “The Titan Games.”

We suppose that was nice and all, but c’mon man: Ronda Rousey made it.

Also Read: Simon Cowell to Bring ‘America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ Edition to NBC This Winter

OK, Fox: You’re up next.

Check back with TheWrap soon for more upfronts news, including Fox’s pitch from the Beacon Theater.

Jenny Maas contributed to this report.

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