NBC Earns $2.5 Billion in Upfront Ad Buys – Is the Peacock Back on Top?

Published 10 months ago by

NBC Number One Network Ad Buys NBC Earns $2.5 Billion in Upfront Ad Buys   Is the Peacock Back on Top?

Ever since the era of “must see TV” ended, NBC has acquired the stigma of being a network on the decline. While shows like Law & Order and The Office still brought in decent ratings and comedies like Community and 30 Rock earned critical acclaim, the once dominant Peacock just couldn’t seem to approach the heights of national ubiquity once enjoyed by ’90s hits like ER and Seinfeld. In the last few years, NBC has approached the level of an outright laughing stock, with its crumbling ratings becoming the butt of many jokes.

That was until the 2013-2014 broadcast season. Just last year, NBC ended the 2012-2013 season by declining 4% in the advertiser coveted demographic of adults 18-49, and coming in third overall for the year behind CBS and FOX. The 2013-2014 season saw the network shoot up an applause-worthy 13% in the 18-49 demo, taking the #1 spot in that category for the first time in ten years. Not coincidentally, the 2003-2004 season saw NBC say goodbye to both Friends and Frasier, two of its last really huge hits. As if that wasn’t enough, NBC’s total viewer audience for the 2013-2014 season increased by a massive 33%.

As the old saying goes, to the victor go the spoils, and NBC is laughing all the way to the bank. The rejuvenated Peacock just wrapped upfront ad sales for the 2014-2015 season, bringing in a hulking 2.5 billion dollars in revenue. That’s an 11% increase from last year, and represents the largest year to year rise for NBC so far this decade.

Now, to be fair, NBC did have a pretty big trump card in its deck this year. The Sochi Winter Olympics dominated the ratings for most of February 2014, and definitely played a large hand in NBC’s demo increase. That said, even if you exclude Olympic coverage, NBC still comes out on top. The margin of victory may not be as large when looked at that way, but rising from third to first place in one year is a huge accomplishment regardless.

Another arrow in NBC’s quiver was weekend juggernaut Sunday Night Football, easily the season’s highest rated program among adults 18-49. Would NBC have done so well without the NFL? Maybe not, but show business at the end of the day is just that, a business. NBC has paid the NFL millions upon millions of dollars to hold onto Sunday Night Football, and that investment is reaping massive rewards.

James Spader The Blacklist Arrested NBC Earns $2.5 Billion in Upfront Ad Buys   Is the Peacock Back on Top?

‘The Blacklist’ starring James Spader

The non-sports side of NBC programming made great strides this past season as well, with new shows like The Blacklist, Chicago P.D. and About A Boy greatly improving on the network’s scripted average. Incoming hosts Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers have more than maintained NBC’s late night dominance, drawing in a younger audience in the process. NBC’s reality lineup is also rock solid, with The Voice all but picking up the torch dropped by FOX’s flagging American Idol.

Sure, NBC still saw its fair share of burnouts this season, with veteran shows like Community and Revolution falling far enough to earn a cancellation, and new series like Believe, Crisis, The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves the World going unwatched by the majority of the population. That still doesn’t change the fact that NBC actually created a few new scripted hits this season, something it has been struggling to do for quite a long time.

So, NBC has finally done it. They’ve climbed back to the top of the TV industry mountain. The real test will be to see if they can stay there. This could indeed be a fluke. If the network’s fall lineup tanks, or existing hits like The Voice and The Blacklist hit slumps, NBC could easily end up back in third place yet again. To paraphrase Han Solo, NBC shouldn’t get cocky. They may have the upper hand now, but that doesn’t mean they’ll win the battle, much less the war.


NBC’s fall 2014 lineup includes the comic book adaptation Constantine, which premieres Friday, October 24th @10pm.

Source: The Wrap

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  1. No love for Hannibal? Best show on TV.

    • It’s a great show for sure. Not really bringing in the monies, though.

  2. Can’t stand NBC these days. Improperly hype up tv shows or hype up shows that obviously won’t be hits (Sean Saves the World), then wonder why they don’t have good ratings, then drop them. It’s tiring.

    Also, no more Community = no more of my viewership. I’ll stick with ABC and FOX.

    • ABC has some shows I have been watching (or will watch in the case of new shows): Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, and galavant.
      Fox also has some shows I have been watching, or will check out in the new season: Sleepy Hollow, The Following, Cosmos, Almost Human (which of course is now cancelled).
      Some other shows I have been enjoying, or will watch when available include:
      CW Network: Arrow, Reign
      CBS Network: Extant, The Odd Couple, Madam Secretary, Battle Creek, Scorpion
      FX Network: The Strain
      WGN America: Salem

      I have moved a few shows over to my Netflix list either because I would have to subscribe to the channels they are currently presented on to watch, or because of the time factor in my schedule, so they are kind of held to watch later on my things to do list in reserve: Penny Dreadful, The Last Ship, Turn, Black Sails, Helix, Revolution, Atlantis, Enlisted. I tried watching Gang-Related, but it just did not do it for me, so I dumped it. Of course a few of these newer shows for next season may get dumped if they do not appear good after I have watched an episode or two, we will see. And you know I will be right there to watch the marvel/netflix team-up shows as well. Add these to my already over-burdened list for Netflix and figure there are a number of good movies the next couple years coming out and Holy Smokes, I need many more hours in my day! Good thing I can spread the Netflix titles out over time!

  3. Well, as far as NBC goes, I have been watching Believe, The Blacklist, Chicago PD, Crossbones, and Crisis on there (plus numerous shows on other network websites). Coming up on NBC for the next season or so there is also Odyssey, Allegiance, State of Affairs, A.D., and possible Aquarius to check out. While I can see why Crisis and believe are one season only shows, I would say at least NBC is making an effort.

  4. Great article, Michael. Lots of good information and proof that NBC has lost its way since the good old days. I definitely don’t watch the network, as my DVR is filled mostly with CBS and a scattering of ABC, CW, and FOX programs. We’ll have to wait and see how NBC’s premiere special looks before I can sign on.

  5. I don’t watch a single show on NBC these days. I have a few on CBS (POI, TBBT, Elementary, 2.5 men), ABC (AOS), FOX (AD, FG, Masterchef). Most of the time it is other cable channels with old show or original programming (GOT, Walking Dead, Penny Dreadful). NBC doesn’t pull me in on anything.

  6. NBC doesnt enter my sphere, as a middle aged man. When I was a kid it was okay. They should stick to producing saturday morning cartoons.

  7. That Sunday Night Football may change in the near future. As ESPN, ABC and Fox Sports are circling NFL as soon as their contract ends with NBC.

  8. If you don’t watch the blacklist, you are missing out. Best drama show HANDS DOWN!

    • I agree. The Blacklist is the best show on television. My husband and I watch it faithfully. Love the charactors especially Ressler and Reddington.