NBCUniversal is holding its not-a-Newfront, “Digital.Amplified,” tonight at the Skylight Modern in New York. The goal of the event — which, once again, is not a Newfront (but also kind of is) — is to highlight the company’s vast digital portfolio, which it says reaches 93% of all adults every month. Earlier today, the company released info on what it plans to showcase to advertisers during the event.
Among a lot of “second-screen” products, social media campaigns and TV Everywhere and mobile apps, there were also several original web series and related online video elements. Here’s a rundown:
- Similar to what it’s doing with the CNBC Digital Workshop, NBCUniversal is forming a digital studio for Today.com. Scheduled for a fall launch, the studio will create “digital-only video, photo and social franchises,” featuring Today’s talent and guests. Ostensibly, this will include web series starring Today’s online and on-air talent as well as guests who appear on The Today Show. But there’s no definite word on that just yet.
- NBC itself will produce “digital-only” episodes associated with some of its TV shows. It’s already done a little bit of this for Grimm and Revolution, and says to expect more of that for new shows in next year’s lineup.
- NightlyCandy: A daily web series hosted by DailyCandy’s chief correspondent, SuChin Pak.
- Oxygen Media is launching “Best Ink: Redemption.” The web series will give a contestant who was ousted from the channel’s reality series, Best Ink, another chance to get back into the competition.
There’s no question that TV is still NBCUniversal’s bread and butter. And a lot of the digital products mentioned in the announcement are tied to enhancing viewer engagement with shows on NBC, Bravo, Oxygen, USA Network and all the other channels under NBCUniversal’s belt. This isn’t exactly unlike what Scripps is doing with ULive.com, which will include original web video content tied to its broadcast properties.
That said, NBCUniversal isn’t averse to original web-based programming. Yes, some of it is tied to TV franchises like Best Ink and Top Chef, but others aren’t. This week’s announcement of the CNBC Digital Workshop included several original web series that, while featuring CNBC reporters and on-air talent, weren’t directly tied to any of the channel’s TV shows. It’s quite conceivable that the digital studio for Today.com will do something similar. Even Fandango has debuted a couple of web series (“The Frontrunners” and “Weekend Ticket”) in the past year, focusing on what it knows best: movies.
So yeah, NBCUniversal’s trump card is still the reach it offers on TV — something the Newfront presenters can’t really replicate (at least in the eyes of those who matter: the buyers). But what it plans to unveil tonight at “Digital.Amplified,” and what the company has been doing in the past year, demonstrates that it’s willing to seriously play in the online video sandbox, one way or another.