Posts tagged with "NBCUniversal"

Jen Psaki to join MSNBC as on-air contributor this fall

May 25, 2022

Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki  is joining cable news channel MSNBC as an on-air contributor and will also host a new program for Peacock, the NBCUniversal streaming platform, the network announced on May 24.

Psaki, who stepped down from her role as chief spokesperson for President Joe Biden earlier this month, joins a long list of White House officials who have taken jobs on cable news after leaving government, reports The Wall Street Journal.

CNN and Fox News also have served as landing spots for political operatives and government officials—among them, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who served as a CNN political commentator during part of the 2016 campaign; and former Trump White House press secretaries Sarah Sanders  and Kayleigh McEnany, both of whom immediately joined Fox News . (Sanders is no longer with the network.)

Before joining the Biden administration, Psaki was a contributor for CNN—and before that, she served in President Barack Obama’s administration.

MSNBC President Rashida Jones said that Psaki is “a familiar face and trusted authority to MSNBC viewers, and we look forward to her insight during this consequential election season.”

Psaki said in a statement that her time in government “will fuel the insight and perspective” she will bring to MSNBC.

The network didn’t disclose many details of the program Psaki would host for Peacock, which is scheduled to debut early next year. In its statement, MSNBC said it would “bring together her unique perspective from behind the podium and her deep experience in the highest levels of government and presidential politics.”

Psaki was succeeded at the White House by Karine Jean-Pierre, herself a former MSNBC contributor.

Research contact: @WSJ

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki plans to leave for an on-air role at MSNBC

April 4, 2022

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, is planning to leave her post to take an on-air role at MSNBC, a source familiar with the matter told CNBC on April 1.

Psaki, who is still fleshing out details with the company, is expected to leave the White House around May, Axios reported earlier Friday.

Psaki will host a show for NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock, Axios reported. She had reportedly also been in talks with CNN and other networks.

Psaki did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

“We don’t have anything to confirm about Jen’s length of planned service or any consideration about future plans,” a White House official told CNBC in an email. “Jen is here and working hard every day on behalf of the president to get you the answers to the questions that you have, and that’s where her focus is.”

News networks have long looked to recruit spokespeople and other high-profile Beltway figures for their day-to-day political coverage, both as anchors and regular contributors.

Longtime ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, for instance, was formerly the White House communications director under President Bill Clinton. MSNBC political analyst and host Nicolle Wallace was a senior spokesperson for the George W. Bush administration and a spokesperson for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Last March, former President Donald Trump’s final Press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, joined Fox News as a commentator. More recently, CBS News signed ex-Trump official Mick Mulvaney as a paid contributor.

Research contact: @CNBC

Larry David doesn’t ‘get’ Crypto. That’s why he’s the perfect pitchman.

February 15, 2022

Larry David, on the fourth and final day of filming his first Super Bowl commercial, was struggling to deliver the punchline because he couldn’t stop coughing, reports The New York Times.

“My throat’s going,” he croaked partway through a 16-hour slog, gesturing to an assistant for another swig of tea. “Sorry, I’m old. I’m raspy. Can we come back tomorrow?”

David joked about taking a break because he knew it was not possible: The production did not have another 24 hours to spare. The big game was weeks away, giving the editors little time to finish production of a commercial that they normally would have had months to wrap up.

The accelerated time frame was partly the result of routine scheduling issues. David was not available until January.

But there was also the Omicron surge, and therefore a strict COVID-19 protocol that cost $100,000 a day for the 112 actors and 134 crew members and personnel on site. The builders had one week to erect seven sets on a cavernous soundstage north of Los Angeles. And a reporter angling for a rare behind-the-scenes look at the making of a Super Bowl commercial was sometimes hovering a little too close to the cameras.

Together, it made for a Super Bowl shoot that was more complicated and compressed than most.

“It’s a higher-risk, higher-reward situation,” said Nathaniel Whittemore, the head of marketing at FTX, the two-year-old virtual Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange that the ad was for. “So maybe it’s not that surprising that a bunch of crypto guys decided that it was a risk worth taking.”

In the commercial, which was broadcast near the end of the first half of Sunday’s game, the famously crotchety actor plays his skepticism for laughs by mocking humanity’s great innovations. The wheel, he declares, is “a miss.” He informs Thomas Edison that the light bulb “stinks.” And in the scene that was supposedly responsible for David going hoarse, he tries to tear up the Declaration of Independence while hollering at the founding fathers about the ridiculousness of democracy.

The commercial closes with David rejecting FTX, and then a warning: “Don’t be like Larry. Don’t miss out on the next big thing.”v

FTX was one of several crypto companies airing Super Bowl commercials for the first time on Sunday night, February 13—a sign of the industry’s surging growth and its hope to gain mainstream legitimacy. The spot is part of a huge marketing push by the company, which was valued at $32 billion after its most recent fund-raising round. FTX declined to say how much it spent on the Super Bowl ads, other than that it was millions of dollars.

In recent months, FTX paid $17.5 million to sponsor the athletic teams at the University of California-Berkeley; introduced a $20 million advertising campaign with the football star Tom Brady and his supermodel wife, Gisele Bündchen; and teamed with the Coachella music festival to offer NFTs, or nonfungible tokens. It has the naming rights to the Miami Heat basketball team’s home arena, which it bought for $135 million.

But the ad unfolded at a particularly frenzied pace. After buying Super Bowl slot in August, FTX and the ad agency dentsuMB spent about two weeks fielding a flurry of ideas and some 80 scripts before a concept by Andrew Hunter, a creative director at dentsuMB, was picked.

In November, David said he wanted in, and six weeks were spent ad-libbing and negotiating with his team over video calls.

The ad then went through 280 hours of editing, winnowing 7.5 hours of raw footage into 60 seconds. (A further 200 hours went into crafting teasers.) A rough cut was presented to FTX on Jan. 17, a mere nine days after filming ended, followed by a volley of revisions alongside work on teasers and special effects.

The final commercial was delivered to NBCUniversal last Monday, February 7.

NBC charged as much as $7 million for 30 seconds of commercial airtime during the game. And there were other expenses: The ad and public relations agencies 360i, dentsu X and Mitchell in addition to dentsuMB; the production company Partizan; and editors at Mackcut.

Then there was the cost of decorating, for one of the 12 scenes shot for the commercial, the great hall of a castle with mounted stag skulls, a stuffed peacock, hundreds of candles with artistically hand-melted wax, two Irish wolfhounds, courtiers with plastic face shields resting lightly on pearl-lined ruffs. All so David, in full Elizabethan regalia, could lambaste the invention of the toilet.

As the FTX spot was shooting, a surge of coronavirus cases led to the shutdown of several other productions around Los Angeles. Partizan asked workers to produce negative PCR tests, submit vaccine questionnaires, upload proof of vaccination and sit for nose swabs inside their cars. The production company handed out more than 900 high-filtration masks.

The intensive screening procedure caught several positive COVID cases. None were detected on the set itself.

The director, Jeff Schaffer, who has worked with David for decades on the TV shows “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” said he sometimes had to stand by as key personnel who were stuck in their cars in the parking lot waited more than an hour for their test results.

“The mornings were always a little ragged because of that,” he said. “We always knew we were going to have to shoot at this time, but we just didn’t know it was going to be in an Omicron hailstorm.”

Sam Bankman-Fried, the co-founder and chief executive of FTX, signed off on the tight time frame and the sizable expense, despite being hard-pressed to name a single recent Super Bowl commercial that had stood the test of time. Few ads have seemed “transcendent or really that exciting,” he said. Even the better ones, he said, are just “sort of, you know, moderately clever.”

But Bankman-Fried, 29, who has a penchant for haphazardly tied shoes and company-branded T-shirts and is worth more than $24 billion, is optimistic about his ad. “Obviously, we think it’s pretty good,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock is now excusive home of WrestleMania programming

January 25, 2021

Wrestling fans appear to have a new home base, now that Peacock and the WWE have finalized an agreement that will see the NBCUniversal-owned streaming service become the exclusive home of the WWE Network’s programming in the United States, Advertising Age reports.

On March 18, fast-growing Peacock will debut its WWE content library—which includes a 24/7 channel and on-demand content. Going forward, it will also be the sole portal for fans to access the WWE’s pay-per-view showdowns, including WrestleMania and SummerSlam, as well as its original series and archive of past pay-per-view match-ups.

“We are thrilled to further the long-standing and trusted partnership WWE has with NBCUniversal,” says Nick Khan, the WWE’s president and chief revenue officer. 

The Peacock partnership will offer a “combination of premium WWE content, live sports, news, films and television programs,” as well as one original documentary each year from 2022, he adds.

While additional rollout details will be available closer to the WWE Network’s streaming launch in March, all of its content—including PPV events—is slated to be available via Peacock Premium, which costs users $4.99 per month, while its ad-free cousin Peacock Premium Plus goes for double that, Ad Age notes.

With the WWE Network deal finalized, coupled with last week’s news that NBCSN will be shutting down and shifting its programming to both the USA Network and Peacock, the NBCU-owned streaming platform seems poised to become one of the company’s live sports powerhouses.

Research contact: @adage

Facebook gets grief for including Breitbart in News tab

October 29, 2019

Can Facebook do anything that doesn’t draw fire from users, regulators, legislators, and the media? After years of complaints from American news outlets that the social media site has The Washington Post reports that Facebook has agreed to compensate at least some news organizations as part of a specialized “News” tab meant to steer users toward curated national and local news stories.

But the project immediately raised new controversy when it became known that Breitbart News—a Web outlet linked to right-wing causes that was once run by former Trump adviser Steve Bannonhad been included among the 200 media outlets participating in the program.

“Given that Facebook is putting actual news outlets in the same category as Breitbart, actual news outlets should consider quickly withdrawing from the program,” Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal nonprofit media watchdog, told the Post.

At an event in New York to launch the project, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended Breitbart’s inclusion. “You want to include a breadth of content to make sure all different topics can be covered,” Zuckerberg said.

Other outlets participating include The Washington Post, The New York Times, News Corp., BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, Bloomberg News, Fox News, NBCUniversal, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

The News tab marks the latest iteration of Facebook’s approach to online news, the Post reports. Before January 2018, the company had been a leading distributor of news, but that role was dogged by the presence in its feed of false and misleading information, as well as by allegations that its news feed and other features tilted toward liberal viewpoints

Zuckerberg did not go into specifics about how different publishers would be compensated, and media analysts expressed skepticism that the arrangement will help the small and medium local outlets that have been most seriously undercut by the rise of online news distribution.

“The vast majority of local news outlets are not included, and that is part of the news ecosystem that’s most at risk,” David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association of news publishers, told The Washington Post.

Chavern called Facebook’s agreement to pay at least some news outlets for their content a step in the right direction, noting that tech platforms have been “uniquely unwilling to pay for news and quality journalism.”

The News tab already is available to more than 200,000 Facebook users in the United States, with a broader rollout planned for early next year. The new service, Facebook executives say, should make it easier for users to locate the day’s major headlines, as well as stories geared toward particular topics or locales.

The initiative could reach 20 million to 30 million people over a few years, Zuckerberg said.

 Research contact: @washingtonpost

Big media and technology companies bankroll a $1 billion small-screen TV venture

August 8, 2018

Disney, Alibaba and NBCUniversal are participating in a $1 billion financing round for a new video streaming service—led by ex-Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and ex-Walt Disney Studios Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg; and designed specifically for mobile viewing, CNBC reported on August 6.

The product, dubbed NewTV for now, will “access the best talent and intellectual property for this next era in entertainment,” Katzenberg, who will be chairman and founder of the initiative, said in a statement.

Katzenberg and his investors—which also include Fox, Viacom, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, and MGM— are banking on an untapped audience that craves high-quality content designed for smartphones and tablets.

Variety revealed this week that NewTV is aiming to launch by the end of 2019, with a premium lineup of original, short-form series comprising episodes of 10 minutes each. The service will have two subscription tiers: an advertising-free plan and an “advertising-light” option (a la Hulu), according to Whitman. Each series will cost between $5 million  and $6 million per hour to produce.

“With NewTV, we’ll give consumers a user-friendly platform, built for mobile, that delivers the best stories, created by the world’s top talent, allowing users to make the most of every moment of their day,” said Whitman, NewTV’s CEO, in a formal company statement on August 7.

NewTV’s platform is owned by Katzenberg’s holding company WndrCo.

More than half of all video viewing is now happening on mobile, and most of those views come from phones, not tablets, according to a study by : That’s video platform provider Ooyala.

Research contact: howard@wavekilo.com