2013 TV Upfronts: NBC's Harbert says there are too many upfronts

NEW YORK -- NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert feels the pain of advertisers who have spent the last two months sitting in stuffy auditoriums listening to television executives tell them where to spend their money in advance of the fall TV season.

"I think it's a little crazy," Harbert said at NBC's so-called upfront announcement to advertisers at Radio City Music Hall on Monday. By Harbert's count, there are 18 upfront presentations this week alone and there have been 70 so far this year.

"The biggest beneficiary is Grey Goose," Harbert cracked.

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Ironically, former NBC Chief Executive Jeff Zucker tried to bring an end to big expensive upfront presentations several years ago, arguing that they had long outlived their usefulness. He did away with them in favor of smaller presentations.

But the perception among advertisers and the media was that NBC was throwing in the towel. After Comcast took control of NBC, it brought back the network's big upfront presentation.

Now not only are there the broadcast upfronts, but practically every cable network does one -- even though most of the big cable networks are actually owned by the same companies as the broadcast networks. It might be easier just to lock all the media buyers and advertisers in one room for two days and show them everything at once.

The sheer volume of presentations does seem to have resulted in upfront fatigue among attendees this year. Not only does every network out there think it has something to tout, much of the big news of the upfront is leaked to the press beforehand, removing even the smallest element of surprise from the presentations.

Of course, once Harbert was done ranting about there being too many upfronts, network brass came out to try to convince all those Madison Avenue suits that NBC was best network to advertise on.


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