NBC’s Greenblatt: Broadcasters’ biggest mistake is doing nothing with social

NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt speaks during the NAB Show in Las Vegas on April 25, 2017.

LAS VEGAS—NBC Entertainment Chair Bob Greenblatt was reluctant to call out his competitors during the NAB Show, but he warned that they’d be mistaken to not aggressively pursue social media and digital platforms.

“In so many cases there are shows on other networks that we would go crazy with on social media,” Greenblatt said.

Speaking today at the show with Nerdist CEO Chris Hardwick, Greenblatt assured the crowd that the broadcasting business is going to continue being vital regardless of what the nightly ratings say. He said that those ratings won’t matter if broadcasters can monetize elsewhere and allow social and digital to become one with what they’re doing.

That push toward a more robust digital and social strategy has helped bring NBC out of the ratings funk it was in a few years ago.

“Anywhere we can get a viewer or market to a new set of eyeballs, we should,” said Greenblatt, adding that NBC had fewer Facebook likes that CBS when he joined NBC after the Comcast deal in 2011.

That’s changed now for NBC, with shows like “This is Us” and “Saturday Night Live” at the forefront of social media interactions across NBC’s social channels. In addition to that social push, Greenblatt said that the NBC app is now available on all connected devices, which Greenblatt said is part of NBC’s attempt to be clever about how ubiquitous its shows are across all platforms.

Related: NBC says $500M Snap investment part of becoming 'better, more digitally focused'

NBC has been one of the most active of the major broadcasters in establishing relationships with new digital media companies. The company recently announced a $500 million strategic investment in Snapchat that comes after NBC’s recent $400 million investment in BuzzFeed and $200 million investment in Vox.

With Snapchat, NBC has been launching both original series and supplemental content for existing shows like “The Voice.”

“The Voice,” which launched in 2011, was designed for digital, said Greenblatt, adding that NBC wanted the hosts and contestants to use social to help build content and interaction for the show.  “The Voice” is now NBC’s number one show and its app has generated more than 500 million interactions and 4.5 million apps within the app this season.

“I don’t think that correlation is by accident. The more social, the more popular the show,” Greenblatt said.

Reality and competition shows like “The Voice” lend themselves to social experiences but dramas like “This Is Us” don’t necessarily because they’re a little more passive, said Greenblatt. But he noted that the trailer for the show generated millions of views and that there’s a big social community around the show.

NBC produces an after show for “This is Us” on social media that involves the cast members. Greenblatt said NBC has talked about how to put the show on the traditional network as well.

In urging other media companies to vigorously pursue social and digital strategies, Greenblatt said ideas are endless.