By Sahil Patel
NBCUniversal is moving forward with what it calls a “robust original video programming initiative” focused on creating and distributing original series for its digital platforms. It’s all in an effort to capitalize on advertisers’ increased desire to buy digital video alongside television, or at least, for TV networks to capture the growing appetite for original content on the web.
“The combination of digital video alongside television content is extremely powerful and becoming an increasingly important part of the connection advertisers make with consumers,” said Linda Yaccarino, president of ad sales for NBCU, in a statement.
A central part of the initiative is to invite advertisers to collaborate with NBCU’s creative teams on the development of original content. (Not unlike what many of the online-only players have done in Newfronts past.)
That said, NBCU is pitching the size and scale of its properties, as well as its distribution capabilities, for advertisers who are still on the fence about financing original online content.
“Much of the uncaptured value in the online world can be unlocked with smart collaborations between creators and clients. This year, we’re making a big push to building that bridge,” added Jeff Wachtel, president and chief content officer of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment.
For the initiative, NBCU will bring in the creative teams across its cable and broadcast network groups, as well as the in-house Creative Innovation Agency, to develop original programming alongside “top production teams from around the industry.” Once produced, these shows will be distributed to various NBCU-owned channel websites, Hulu, and video-on-demand.
And the company plans to put some marketing muscle behind them, too: The shows will be promoted across NBCU’s portfolio of linear and VOD channels.
The initiative begins with four shows from NBCU units like Universal Cable Productions and Universal Television, as well as the Broadway Video-owned comedy network Above Average.
UCP is working on two shows at the moment. “Tesla and Twain” is a comedy series loosely based on the real-life friendship between the famous author and inventor — only if they were somehow transported to present-day Los Angeles. “Last Single Girl” tells the story of a single, overeducated and underemployed young woman who is coming to terms with being a grown-up while all of her best friends are getting married.
Overall, UCP plans to develop more than a dozen projects with partners like 72 and Sunny Productions.
Universal Television is producing “Saturday Night Line,” a comedy series about the people who wait in the standby line for “Saturday Night Live,” in conjunction with Above Average Productions. This show will be available on NBC.com.
The other show from Universal Television is the previously announced “Heroes Reborn,” which will precede an all-new mini-series sequel to NBC’s one-time hit franchise “Heroes.” “Heroes Reborn” comes from executive producer Tim Kring’s Tailwind Productions.