Save the Cheerleader! Save the (Old) World!

Published on May 1, 2007
by Kara Swisher

Beth Comstock, who is president of NBC Universal Integrated Media, has been one of the company’s fastest rising executives. So it was good to hear that she appeared to have completed the journey of becoming a true digital believer when she was interviewed today onstage in front of a Silicon Valley audience at the Stanford Accel event hosted by Media X called “The Future of Advertising in Digital Media: New Business Models for Multimedia Content.”


She said the surge of Web video had been a “big learning curve for all of us,” adding that “there are defined segments of the market, and people are gravitating toward different platforms and using video in different ways.” Pointing to the NBC hit television show “Heroes,” she said its producers now had to consider all the digital implications along with the plot twists. So everyone now has to ask themselves, said Comstock, “How do I think of ‘Heroes’ in all these dimensions?”

But it did not take too long for the rubber band to recoil with a snap. Comstock noted that “the reality is [that] television is a very effective medium,” she said. “That is something that marketers want to pay for.” It is likely Comstock hopes that will be true in mid-May, when the television networks and advertisers meet in New York for the annual upfronts. That’s where the networks show off their new fall shows (while wining and dining media buyers), hoping to garner promises of billions of dollars in advertising spending. This year, though, many predict that increased Internet spending might finally sully the party. And then the cheerleader might really need some saving.

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