Looking to emulate the approach of tech companies’ developer conferences, NBCUniversal has scheduled an event in March it is calling “One21.”
The plan is for the gathering (which will be held virtually this year on March 22) to become an annual fixture. It will be a complement to the upfront events traditionally hosted by the company, and will not preclude any participation in major trade shows and industry events like CES. In January 2020, before Covid-19 brought the curtain down on business travel and confabs, NBCU had a large presence at CES, where it talked up streaming service Peacock and other initiatives.
Linda Yaccarino, NBCU’s chairman of global advertising and partnerships, said the urgent need for businesses to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and help rebuild the economy requires “radical transformation.” She added, “For any brand and every business, we hope One21 will spark meaningful transformation, empower their entrepreneurship, and show them what’s possible using all our resources. We’re excited to share our vision and ready to roll up our sleeves to build that future.”
The pandemic last spring ravaged the traditional ad business, with even tech giants reporting a rare slowdown in sales. In the second half of 2020, advertising rebounded, but linear TV remains in a delicate state, with many leading forecasts suggesting it has peaked as an ad vehicle. In the fourth quarter ending December 31, Comcast reported a 10% decline in broadcast revenue for NBCU, with a 4% drop in cable, though executives said they expect a strong recovery in the latter part of 2021. Overall ad spending across categories will also likely be uneven in the coming quarters, however, with many sectors facing a long and challenging road to recovery once Covid-19 recedes.
Highlighting the scope of parent company Comcast, including Sky, is a key goal of One21. NBCU says the inaugural edition will present insights from 615 million people around the world (233 million in the U.S.) who engage with the many brands and divisions of NBCU and Sky. The company estimates consumers spend nearly 85 billion hours a year with NBCU and Sky.
The event will “bridge the gap between consumers and advertisers, and redefine what it means to partner with a leading media and technology company,” according to the official announcement. It will bring together creative professionals, marketers, developers, technologists, entrepreneurs and explore the consumer experience and NBCU’s “development roadmap.” The plan is to highlight the investments the company has made in technology, data, commerce and “local-to-global” capabilities.
“One21 will give our partners a full view of the technology that powers their plans, the stories that connect them to consumers, and the commerce tools that drive results,” said Josh Feldman, Chief Marketing Officer, NBCUniversal, Advertising and Partnerships. “On One Platform, marketers are the developers, partnering with our teams to create amazing experiences for their audiences on every single screen.”