NBCU Cable Upfront Was a Spectacle That Packed in 168 Stars

Kardashians, housewives, wrestlers and shahs

At the final presentation of the 2015-2016 Upfront week, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment president Bonnie Hammer reminded attendees, "By now you've seen it all, heard it all and drank it all. But there's one more big story to share."

Hammer boasted "the largest gathering of on-air talent at any event this week." In fact, 168 stars showed up. From Christian Slater to the Chrisleys. From Hulk Hogan to Chica. Eighteen Real Housewives and three Kardashians.

It took a massive, 13-screen-wide curved set of monitors to show off what NBCU's seven networks had to offer. The upfront was heavy on trailers and light on talk. "We intend to show you, not tell you, our impressive story," Hammer said.

Nick Cannon, Guiliana Rancic and Andy Cohen, with tequila and Fresca in hand, hosted the event. Whenever the word "data" was said, Andy drank. He drank a lot.

"If I drank anytime someone said 'data,' I'd be hammered every day by 10 o'clock in the morning," said NBCU head of ad sales Linda Yaccarino. 

Photo: Getty Images

Yaccarino told attendees NBCU Cable reaches "93 percent of all viewers." Comparable entertainment network Turner reaches 75 percent of U.S. viewers. But Yaccarino wasn't interested in looking at her cable competitors. "Facebook and YouTube are neither substitutes nor surrogates for broadcast," she said to clients, whose ad spends are increasingly being pulled in the direction of digital.

As for the new shows, here's what's on tap:


  • Mr Robot: A hacker aims to take down "the 1 percent of the 1 percent"
  • Queen of the South: A take-off of the popular Telemundo telenovala La Reina del Sur
  • Colony: A Carleton Cuse drama set in a dystopian Los Angeles

Bravo: Cohen boasted "40 new and returning original series," including its second scripted series:

  • Odd Mom Out: A comedy about an Upper East Side mom who struggles to fit in
  • Apres Ski: Reality series about life at a high-end ski resort
  • Work Out New York: Intense trainers show their stuff
  • Tour Group: "Jet-setting personalities" and the bon vivant lives they lead

Rancic announced E! will bring back The Royals for Season 2 in November and add new reality show Stewarts & Hamiltons, about the blended Hollywood family. There was also a recognition of E! News Daily: "The best in the business that delivers to a young and diverse audience," Rancic said.

Bruce Jenner recorded a promo on May 7 for his new series, just to air at this event. "You're going to get to see the good times and the bad times," Jenner promised of his transition from male to female. The show comes to E! this summer.

Cannon introduced new programs on Oxygen, which he said is a network "based on how women live their lives and see the world." The America's Got Talent host will executive produce one of the new shows:

  • Next Gen Boss: The assistants behind successful entrepreneurs
  • Time to Quit Your Day Job: Young entrepreneurs create, invent and lead
  • Pretty Strong: Life beyond the sidelines of a women's football league

After a wardrobe change, Rancic was back to talk about three new shows coming to Esquire, the network "not for men but for gentlemen:"

  • The Agent: "Think real-life Jerry Maguire"
  • Somm: Follow six aspiring master sommeliers
  • Spotless: Esquire's first scripted series is a one-hour drama, "laced with dark humor" and set in London

Syfy: In addition to Sharnado 3: Oh Hell No! coming this summer, the channel is looking at three new scripted series:

The Prancing Elites from Oxygen closed out the 2015-2016 Upfront, appropriately to the tune of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off.

@ChrisAriens chris.ariens@adweek.com Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.