NBCUniversal Wraps Upfront; Volume Up From 2021 Record, Rates Post High-Single-Digit Percentage Rise, Peacock Pledges Double To $1B

NBCUniversal has exceeded last year’s record-setting upfront ad revenue haul north of $7 billion, company insiders said in confirming the finalizing of upfront dealmaking.

Rates increased by high-single-digits, fueled by strong growth in categories like retail, quick-serve restaurants, consumer packaged goods, technology and streaming. Pharmaceuticals led all categories with nearly 40% growth over last year, followed by travel, which climbed 30%.

Commitments to Peacock, NBCU’s two-year-old streaming service, doubled from last year to reach $1 billion. The platform got off to a sluggish start in 2020 amid the worst of Covid before gaining traction with originals like Bel-Air and the addition of the WWE Network. In May, parent Comcast reported 28 million monthly users for Peacock, putting it ahead of its projected goal of 30 million to 35 million by 2025.

Earlier this month, in a virtual appearance at a Credit Suisse investor conference, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said he was “thrilled” with the state of the company’s upfront efforts given initial expectations for a mid-single-digit rate increase.

Declines in “viewership and distribution due to cord-cutting and everything else was offset by pricing at Peacock,” Shell said. The addition of the streaming service has made NBCU the biggest advertiser in the upfront marketplace, the exec said.

The company’s One Platform, which streamlines the buying experience for clients, was credited with helping the upfront results, along with the inclusion of ads from parent Comcast and NBCU’s local stations. Other pluses included Spanish-language rights to the World Cup on Telemundo this fall, and partnerships with Apple News and ReachTV.

“Advertising is a futures market, and if the results of this upfront say anything, it’s that we have built the future our partners want.” said Linda Yaccarino, NBCU’s chairman of global advertising and partnerships. “The momentum of this year’s upfront is underscored by our commitment to bring both simplicity and flexibility to a complex marketplace.”

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