When he takes to the dais today, Robert Greenblatt will be offering a glimpse into the seemingly impossible.
Responsible for all aspects of his organizations’s primetime, late night, daytime and first-run syndication programming, the chairman of NBC Entertainment will look at the tricky art of 52-week planning, the complexity in programming for multiple platforms simultaneously, the opportunities that exist in binge viewing trends, and how some of the network’s newest hits — from “This is Us” to “America’s Got Talent” — have tipped the scales in NBC’s favor.
Greenblatt will be part of a keynote conversation with Chris Hardwick, host of the AMC program “Talking Dead.”
NAB Show Daily News: What lessons can the media and entertainment industry take from the success of NBC programming such as “This is Us?”
Greenblatt: To have a runaway success on a broadcast platform these days, you have to be firing on all cylinders. The creative has to be undeniable, emotional, compelling, appointment-worthy TV. The marketing has to be ubiquitous; you have to be in every medium you can think of to reach the largest audience, so that means be utterly clever in social media as well as all traditional media. And if you have a large media company where you can also marshal the assets of several cable channels, a movie studio and the largest cable provider in the country, you get an even bigger leg up.
Daily News: Is the take-away lesson one of strong storytelling? Compelling crossmedia marketing? Another factor?
Greenblatt: If the show itself is really strong, that will drive the marketing to be that much more powerful wherever it appears. “This Is Us” was the perfect storm of the right show, the right marketing and the right company that is in a unique position to pull all the levers.
Daily News: How has NBC changed the way it tackles the traditional 52-week programming process?
Greenblatt: Since I came to the company in 2011 we decided to continue to program the summer aggressively and we have won the summer season for six years in a row. One of our biggest successes any time of the year is “America’s Got Talent” and it’s been driving the summer for 10 seasons now.
We have also built some additional strong summer reality franchises — for example, “American Ninja Warrior” and Running Wild With Bear Grylls” — not to mention “The Voice” was launched in the summer, and our biggest new reality show this year, “World of Dance,” will be a summer show this season, too. We also have successful scripted dramas like “Night Shift” — going into its fourth season — and have launched comedies in the summer as well, including the critically acclaimed “The Carmichael Show.”
Add to that a Summer Olympics every four years and we are truly open for business all year long. Plus, a strong summer is one of the reasons why we — out of all networks — have such success in the fall, because we don’t have to start from scratch in September to try to win back all the people we abandoned in May.
Daily News: What were your programming and marketing priorities when it came to regaining NBC’s leadership status for viewers in the 18–49 demographic?
Greenblatt: Very simply, develop a slate of undeniable dramas and comedies and reality shows that spoke to the NBC audience; and then market them with the full force of the company, utilizing on-air promo, off-air media, social media and the cross-promotional opportunities of NBC Universal.
In addition to that, keep the schedule robust with sporting events (football, Olympics, etc.) and live events (musicals, holiday specials, etc.), which keeps circulation relatively higher than anyone else in order to get the word out to the ever-fracturing audience. One of the most important actions we had to also take right away was to completely restructure our digital group to get in step with where the audience was going. We were woefully behind the other broadcast networks in 2011 in that area, and I’m happy to say we are now well out in front of them in all measures digital.
No one is more forward-thinking in the digital space than we are.
Daily News: What are you hoping that attendees walk away with from your keynote address?
Greenblatt: I hope people realize how challenging and multifaceted the broadcast television business is today as well as how rewarding it still can be when we are able to reach the scale of audience that only broadcast can reach.