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Our history
In the early years of the twentieth century, NBC and Universal began creating their extraordinary legacies in the exciting new worlds of motion picture production and distribution, location-based entertainment, and radio and television production and broadcasting. Today, as one company under the ownership of Comcast, NBCUniversal continues to build on this legacy of quality and innovation.

An Industry Is Born

1910

Although the first moving pictures date back to the late nineteenth century, the movie industry as a mass entertainment medium didn't truly take off until the second decade of the twentieth. Playing a key role was a German immigrant from Chicago (by way of Laupheim) named Carl Laemmle.

Carl Laemmle founds Universal

Carl Laemmle's Independent Moving Pictures Company merged with five other film companies to create the Universal Film Manufacturing Company, headed by Laemmle. For the first time, a single entity encompassed all facets of the movie industry: production, distribution, and exhibition.

1912

Universal City opens its gates

At its opening, Universal City was billed as "the only moving-picture city in the world."

1915

The Birth of the National Experience

1920

NBC made it possible for a national audience to share in a single experience, be it a presidential address or a baseball game. David Sarnoff had envisioned such a service as early as 1915, when, in a memo to his boss at the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, he proposed a broadcast radio network whereby "events of national importance can be simultaneously announced and received," and "baseball scores can be transmitted in the air." His vision became a reality in 1926, with the founding of NBC.

David Sarnoff founds the nation's first permanent radio network, NBC

Heralding NBC's arrival, this advertisement appeared in newspapers across the nation.

1926

Radio captures the nation's imagination

Landmark radio broadcasts for NBC included the Rose Bowl, which was the first coast-to-coast radio network broadcast, the Tunney-Dempsey heavyweight fight, and Charles Lindbergh's return to the U.S. after the first trans-Atlantic flight.

1927

Real Folks debuts on NBC Radio

Premiering on August 6, 1928, Real Folks was NBC’s first serial drama. Created and written by George Frame Brown (at microphone), the show revolved around the lives of the residents of Thompkins Corner, a typical small town in America. 

1928

Universal releases its first “talking picture,” Melody of Love

The romantic drama in nine reels starred Mildred Harris as a French cabaret singer and Walter Pidgeon as the songwriter-turned-soldier who falls in love with her.

1928
1929

NBC Sounds the Chimes

NBC had used chimes as a switching cue from its beginnings as a radio network. Many configurations of notes were used until 1929, when NBC settled on the familiar three tones that have become a cultural icon. The G-E-C signal was the first audio service mark, registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on April 4, 1950.

The Golden Age of Radio

1930

Before television, radio was the dominant medium for entertainment, and the most popular source was NBC, which delivered programming to the nation over two networks, the Red and the Blue (named for the color of the pencils used by NBC's engineers as they marked the affiliates of the respective networks on a map of the United States).

Universal wins its first Academy Award for Best Picture with All Quiet on the Western Front

The acclaimed epic war film is considered to be one of the most realistic portrayals of warfare in the history of cinema.

1930

Universal becomes king of the horror movie

Dracula and Frankenstein marked the beginning of Universal's leadership in the horror genre.

1931
1931
IT'S ALIVE!
Frankenstein

NBC begins experimental TV broadcasts from atop new Empire State Building

This doll, named Felix the Cat, was one of the first images ever broadcast by television. Chosen for its tonal contrast and ability to withstand the high temperatures caused by the intense lighting needed for early broadcasts, Felix was placed on a rotating phonograph turntable and televised for a few hours each day, as RCA engineers worked to fine-tune the technology.

1931

Bob Hope begins his long broadcasting career on NBC

During NBC's radio years, staff kept extensive programming details on index cards. This is the first card for Bob Hope, showing him making his NBC debut on June 8, 1933, as a guest on Rudy Vallee's Fleischmann's Yeast Hour.

1933

30 Rockefeller Center becomes home to NBC operations

Built at the depths of the Great Depression, Rockefeller Center was at the time the largest privately financed construction project in history.

1933

NBC Radio broadcasts the 1936 Berlin Olympics

African-American athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals.

1936
1937
Italian maestro Arturo Toscanini makes his first appearance conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra
1939
Now we add radio sight to sound.
David Sarnoff
1939

David Sarnoff launches regular TV service from the 1939 World's Fair in Flushing, Queens

Sarnoff spoke from the RCA Exhibit Building, heralding the birth of "a new art and a new industry, which eventually will provide entertainment and information for millions."

1939
NBC begins regularly programmed television service
1939
Two months after the birth of television, an NBC executive attempts to get TVs into the hands of employees

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade becomes a television tradition

The holiday special first aired as a local telecast in 1939.  The photo featured here was from the 1940 parade. 

1939

Radio Unifies the Nation

1940

From its beginnings, NBC (and its parent company, RCA) was investing in the development of television. World War II put a halt to this, as the nation's resources were devoted to the war effort (including Brigadier General David Sarnoff, who served as General Eisenhower's communications expert).

Abbot and Costello make Universal debut

Burlesque comic duo Bud Abbot and Lou Costello made their debut as Universal stars in 1940 with One Night in the Tropics, the first of 29 films made for the studio. The versatile performers also headlined a radio show on NBC from 1942 to 1947.

1940

NBC's WNBT in New York is granted FCC's first commercial TV station license

On July 1, 1941, WNBT (later to become WNBC), aired the first television commercial, a 10-second spot for the Bulova Watch Co., with a voiceover that said "America runs on Bulova time." The spot cost $9.

1941
1947

Meet the Press moves from radio to television

Meet the Press began in 1945 as a radio program on the Mutual radio network. It made its debut as a television program in 1947 and is the longest-running show in TV history. The show’s first moderator was Martha Rountree. She and Lawrence Spivak share credit for creating the program. 

Howdy Doody and Kraft Television Theatre debut on NBC

Originating from Studio 3A in 30 Rock, Howdy Doody was one of the first television series to feature audience participation in the form of the famous "Peanut Gallery" of kids. Kraft Television Theatre was the first of the great live dramatic series on TV, broadcast from Studio 8H.

1947

The first televised World Series is broadcast by NBC

The New York Yankees would defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers in 7 games. Seen here, trailblazer Jackie Robinson slides safely into 2nd base. Nearly 4 million Americans tuned in, more than 3 million of whom watched from their local tavern.

1947
1948
Uncle Miltie is TV's best salesman

Television gets political

TV played its first major role in covering a presidential election as NBC televised the nominating conventions. The Camel Newsreel Theater was the first regularly scheduled newscast on NBC.

1948
1949
Ballet Comes to NBC: Ballet Theatre (now known as American Ballet Theatre, or ABT) made its television debut on NBC on May 22, 1949

TV Comes of Age

1950

The 1950s saw television become the dominant medium for entertainment and news. In 1950, just 9% of U.S. households owned a television set. By the end of the decade, the percentage had skyrocketed to almost 90%. In living rooms across America, the radio was relegated to a corner while the TV moved front and center.

1950
Bob Hope makes television debut on NBC with an Easter Sunday special, Star Spangled Revue
1950
NBC pioneers daytime television with the Kate Smith Hour and introduces Sid Caesar in Your Show of Shows

NBC's Dragnet debuts as one of TV's earliest and most successful crime series

Dragnet began on NBC in 1949 as a radio show and moved to television two years later. It would run until 1956 and then be revived for a second run from 1967 to 1970. Shown here are the stars of the second version, Harry Morgan and Jack Webb.

1951
1951
Just the facts, ma'am.
Dragnet
1952

David Garroway was the first host of the Today show

This is how Garroway opened the first show. Now, more than 60 years later, millions of people begin their day with Today.

1952
Today becomes the first network early-morning news program

NBC begins first compatible color broadcasts, preceding other networks by nine years

NBC presented an episode of Kukla, Fran, and Ollie on August 30, 1953, as the first publicly announced experimental broadcast in compatible color.

1953

Universal releases its first 3-D film, It Came From Outer Space

The sci-fi thriller was based on a story by Ray Bradbury. 

1953

The Tonight Show, TV's first successful late-night talk show, debuts on NBC with Steve Allen as host

Allen originated features of late-night television that are now long familiar to viewers, such as the opening monologue and celebrity interviews. He broadcast the show from the Hudson Theatre on West 44th St. in New York City.

1954
1954
This program is going to go on forever.
Steve Allen

The first TV "spectacular," Satin and Spurs, is shown on NBC

Yet another programming idea from the fertile imagination of Pat Weaver, the "spectacular" broke with the then-standard custom of airing programs sponsored (and controlled) by a single advertiser, in favor of a program controlled by the network, with commercial time sold to multiple advertisers.

1954
1955

NBC Radio introduces Monitor, a new weekend program service

Monitor was the last of Pat Weaver's innovations for NBC. The series offered an eclectic mix of programming from around the world. A critical and popular success, it ran for 20 years, keeping NBC Radio alive in an era increasingly focused on television.

Mary Martin stars in Peter Pan on NBC

Broadcast in color, the live telecast drew a record-breaking estimated audience of 65 million.  NBC would again present a live production of Peter Pan 59 years later on December 4, 2014 with Allison Williams as Peter Pan and Christopher Walken as Captain Hook.

1955

Chet Huntley and David Brinkley gain national acclaim for their election coverage and their subsequent Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC

On the evening newscast, Chet Huntley reported from New York and David Brinkley from Washington. Their closing lines became one of television’s best-known catchphrases: “Goodnight, Chet. Goodnight, David. And goodnight, for NBC News.” 

1956

Nat King Cole is first major black artist to have his own network series, on NBC

Even with his enormous charm and a stunning array of guests, Cole was unable to overcome resistance to a black headliner from some advertisers and affiliates. Unable to secure a national advertiser, NBC was forced to cancel the program in December of 1957.

1956

Wagon Train and The Dinah Shore Chevy Show debut on NBC

Wagon Train was one of the first of what became an avalanche of Westerns on TV in the late 1950s. In 1958, there were 31 westerns on prime-time television. Balancing this was the folksy Dinah Shore, with her trademark hand-to-mouth smooch – “mwah!”

1957

Jack Paar becomes host of The Tonight Show on NBC

With Paar, the show would relocate to Studio 6B in the RCA Building. In 1960, Paar famously walked off the program in protest to NBC management who had censored a water-closet joke, saying “There must be a better way of making a living than this.” A month later, after having spent a few weeks in Hong Kong trying to calm down, he returned, admitting that he couldn’t find a better way after all.

1957
1957
Margot Fonteyn Stars in “Cinderella” on NBC

Bonanza, first TV Western series in color, begins its 14-year run on NBC

Along with The Wonderful World of Disney, Bonanza was responsible for boosting color TV set penetration from virtually nonexistent to more than 50% by 1971.

1959

Brought to You in Living Color

1960

In 1957, audiences first heard NBC's announcer intone the famous phrase: "The following program is brought to you in living color, on NBC!" At the time, most viewers watched the animated six-color peacock unfold to these words in muted shades of black and white. But by the mid-sixties, NBC was offering virtually its entire lineup in color, and programs such as Bonanza and The Wonderful World of Disney were driving sales of color sets.

1960

NBC initiates presidential TV debates (Kennedy and Nixon)

The debate, moderated by Howard K. Smith, reached more than 69 million people via TV and another 17 million on radio.

Universal's Spartacus premieres; the movie wins four Academy Awards

Starring Kirk Douglas and directed by Stanley Kubrick, Spartacus cost $12 million to make and grossed $14.6 million at the box office, making it one of the year’s top movies. 

1960
1960

The first NBC White Paper is produced, beginning a long-running documentary series

The first installment, The U-2 Affair, was about a spy mission in the Soviet Union. Running for two decades, the series won universal acclaim for its high journalistic standards.

The Virginian debuts as TV's first 90-minute series on NBC

Airing until 1971, The Virginian is TV’s third-longest-running western, after Gunsmoke and Bonanza

1962
1962
Johnny Carson takes over as host of The Tonight Show
1962

Johnny Carson makes his debut as host of The Tonight Show

On Carson’s first show (October 1, 1962), he was introduced by Groucho Marx, who warmed up the audience with a 15-minute monologue. Listen here to the first minutes after Johnny took the stage. Groucho’s mention of Hong Kong is a reference to Jack Paar’s dispute with the network (see 1957 entry above). 

1962
Heeeeeere's....Johnny!!
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

Universal's To Kill a Mockingbird premieres

Gregory Peck received the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus Finch.

1962
1962
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
To Kill a Mockingbird
1963

NBC News covers the assassination and funeral of President Kennedy

Over 400 newsman and mobile units were used during the 71 hours of coverage.

NBC Sports televises the Tokyo Olympic Games

The segments included some live-by-satellite telecasts, as well as same-day coverage.

1964

Universal Studios Tour opens for business

The tour was a reincarnation of the original Universal tour that was halted in the late 1920s, when "talkies" became the norm and producers demanded a set free of noise from visitors.

1964

Bill Cosby becomes the first black actor to have a leading role in a series, NBC's I Spy

Cosby earned three consecutive Emmys as Best Male Actor in a Dramatic Television Series for his portrayal of agent Alexander Scott.

1965

I Dream of Jeannie premieres on NBC

Barbara Eden’s Jeannie famously crossed her arms, nodded her head, and disappeared into a cloud of smoke.  Eden and co-star Larry Hagman captivated audiences with their magical chemistry until 1970.

1965

Future cult hit Star Trek debuts on NBC

The show developed a passionate following despite low ratings; it was ranked fifty-second in its first season.

1966
1966
Live long and prosper.
Star Trek

NBC's Ironside, the popular detective series starring Raymond Burr, debuts

The TV movie of Ironside was such a success that this show was turned into a series - arguably, the first-ever with a handicapped character.

1967
1967
Sock it to me!
Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In

Groundbreaking comedy Julia debuts on NBC

Diahann Carroll was the first African-American woman to star in her own comedy television series. On NBC’s Julia, which aired from 1968 to 1971, she portrayed a widow and single mother working as a nurse to support her son. The image of a strong, modern, and professional African-American woman defied stereotypes and was a revolutionary concept for television during the Civil Rights era.

1968

NBC airs one of the biggest upsets in sports history: the 1969 Super Bowl

Joe Namath and the New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts 16 to 7.

1969

Laughter Heals All Wounds

1970

The decade of the seventies began with a series of sobering blows: the fall of Saigon, Watergate, and President Nixon's resignation. The American public was in no mood to dwell on problems, however. Indeed, the painful social issues of the sixties were fodder for the seventies' laugh track, as evidenced by shows such as Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Sanford and Son, and Saturday Night Live.

The Flip Wilson Show debuts on NBC

For the first two years after its debut, the show was the No. 2 program in America. Wilson earned a Golden Globe for his performance and the show garnered two Emmys.

1970
1970
What you see is what you get.
Flip Wilson

The NBC Mystery Movie, rotating three different detective series, introduces Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo

Steven Spielberg directed Lt. Colombo's first series case.

1971
1971
Just one more thing...
Columbo

Universal's The Sting premieres

The film, which starred Paul Newman, Robert Redford, captured seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

1973

American Graffiti becomes an instant classic

The coming-of-age film, directed by George Lucas, starred Harrison Ford, Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Suzanne Somers, Cindy Williams, Wolfman Jack and Mackenzie Phillips.

1973
1973
Breaking new ground, NBC launches Tomorrow, a late-late-night talk program.

One of TV's most successful family series, Little House on the Prairie, is launched on NBC

Bonanza veteran Michael Landon starred in and produced the series, which featured Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls Wilder.

1974
1975

Jaws makes millions afraid to go in the water

Considered to be the first blockbuster, the film from Steven Spielberg was the highest-grossing movie in history to date.

1975
You're gonna need a bigger boat.
Jaws

Saturday Night Live debuts on NBC, and with it, a new standard in TV comedy

The new variety series was created by Lorne Michaels to replace Saturday night repeats of The Tonight Show. The show became a television institution, introducing audiences to some of the most beloved comedic stars of the past four decades.

1975
1975
Live from New York, it's Saturday night!
Saturday Night Live

USA Network launches

The cable channel was originally called the Madison Square Garden Network – not to be confused with regional sports network MSG.

1977

CHiPS debuts on NBC

Larry Wilcox and Eric Estrada starred as state motorcycle patrolmen with the California Highway Patrol, better known as CHiPs.

1977

NBC's Holocaust miniseries attracts 107 million viewers and wins 21 major awards

The nine-and-a-half hour television event aired over four nights in April of 1978 and starred Michael Moriarty and Meryl Streep.

1978

Universal’s National Lampoon’s Animal House premieres

Director John Landis and star John Belushi (Saturday Night Live) shattered expectations with the low-budget college fraternity film that has since become a comedy classic.  

1978

Universal's The Deer Hunter premieres

The movie, which featured stars Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Meryl Streep, went on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

1978

The Second Golden Age

1980

Under the creative leadership of Brandon Tartikoff, NBC went from last to first, with successful shows such as The Cosby Show, Cheers, and Miami Vice. After NBC was acquired by GE in 1986, new CEO Bob Wright urged the company to embrace the future of cable television, which resulted in the launch of CNBC in 1989.

NBC's miniseries Shogun wins huge audiences and critical praise

The five-part, twelve-hour miniseries explored the world of feudal Japan and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series.

1980

Landmark series Hill Street Blues is introduced on NBC

The innovative police series was destined to become one of TV's most-honored programs, with 26 Emmys and 98 Emmy nominations.

1981
1981
Let's be careful out there.
Hill Street Blues

The debut of Late Night with David Letterman introduces a new irreverent style of TV comedy on NBC

Letterman would host the show until 1993.

1982
1982

Universal's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial takes over the domestic and international box offices

The highest-grossing film of the 1980s, E.T. garnered nearly $800 million at the worldwide box-office.

1982
E.T. phone home.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
1982
Under the guidance of NBC entertainment chief Brandon Tartikoff, quality primetime series such as Cheers, St. Elsewhere, and Family Ties make NBC a favorite with audiences and critics alike
1983
I pity the fool.
The A-Team

Tom Brokaw becomes sole anchor of NBC Nightly News

After assuming his role as head anchor on September 5, 1983, Brokaw went on to cover historic events and conduct groundbreaking one-on-one interviews with notable political leaders of the time. He would continue to serve as anchor and managing editor of NBC’s flagship news broadcast until 2004. 

1983

NBC programs receive 133 Emmy Award nominations

This is the most ever by one network. NBC also received 33 primetime awards, more than the other two networks combined.

1983

NBC's The Cosby Show debuts and quickly becomes TV's most popular series

The sitcom featured standup comedian Bill Cosby as the patriarch of an upper-middle class African-American family, a groundbreaking television concept at the time.  The show was the No. 1 program in the nation for five consecutive seasons.

1984

NBC's Today airs the first-ever live telecast from the coliseum in Rome

This was the first time American TV cameras have been allowed inside the Pauline Chapel, the Pope's private chapel. Pope John Paul II celebrated mass for the Today staff.

1985

The Golden Girls debuts on NBC

The breakthrough show showcased the talents of comediennes Betty White, Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty.  The Golden Girls was a surprise hit, as a sitcom featuring a group of women over the age of fifty was considered an uncertain bet at the time.

1985

NBC has its most successful season in 30 years

The network had nine of the top 20 programs, including Miami Vice and Golden Girls.

1985

Universal's Out of Africa premieres

The film was honored with seven Oscars, including Best Picture.

1985

Universal's Back to the Future premieres

The time-traveling adventure starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd was the highest-grossing film of the year, with $381 million in box-office revenues.

1985
1985
If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.
Back to the Future

GE buys RCA for $6.4 billion

At the time, the deal was the largest non-oil acquisition in U.S. history. Pictured here (l-r) is outgoing NBC president Grant Tinker, GE Chairman Jack Welch, and incoming president Bob Wright. Photo credit: Neal Boenzi/The New York Times/Redux

1986
1986
Well, isn't that special?
Saturday Night Live

NBC's Today goes on the road to the People's Republic of China

Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley reported on the cultural treasures of the world's most populous nation.

1987
1989

NBC launches CNBC

NBC's first successful foray into the new cable industry, CNBC was originally called the Consumer News and Business Channel. Today, it reaches nearly 400 million homes worldwide.

Universal's Field of Dreams premieres

Kevin Costner starred as Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer who was inspired to build a baseball diamond in his field after hearing voices advising him: "If you build it, he will come."

1989

The NBC hit sitcom Seinfeld makes its debut as The Seinfeld Chronicles

The program became a ratings powerhouse for NBC in the 1993-94 primetime season.

1989

NBC launches The More You Know

The multiple award-winning public service campaign addresses issues such as substance abuse, teen pregnancy, violence prevention, peer pressure, and sexually transmitted diseases.

1989
1989

NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw exclusively covers the fall of the Berlin Wall live

Brokaw was the only television journalist with a live satellite feed from Brandenburg Gate.

Cable Grows Up

1990

In 1990, broadcast networks captured the lion's share of viewership, drawing an average audience nearly four times as large as the cable audience. But just a dozen years later, cable viewership would zoom past broadcast, and cable has never looked back. NBC helped drive this growth by launching, growing, and acquiring what would become one of the industry’s largest suite of cable networks, covering news, sports, and entertainment. 

Law & Order, the "mother ship" of the successful crime series franchise, makes its debut on NBC

The show, which featured plots that were “ripped from the headlines,” was a staple of NBC’s primetime lineup for two decades.

1990

Universal Studios Florida Opens

1990

Tim Russert becomes the ninth moderator for Meet the Press

Russert, a top-notch interviewer, would expertly grill Washington’s most powerful politicians during his 17-year tenure as host, the longest in the show’s history.  His interviews were so compelling that Meet the Press eventually expanded to an hour-long format in 1992. 

1991
1991
If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.
Meet the Press

Jay Leno makes his debut as the host of The Tonight Show

Leno, who frequently appeared on Tonight during the Johnny Carson era, debuted as host in May of 1992.  The well-publicized transition between Carson and Leno was rocky, but Leno quickly became a late-night staple with his everyman humor and popular bits like “Headlines” and “Jaywalking.”

1992

Universal Studio’s CityWalk opens

CityWalk expanded Universal Studios Hollywood with a three-block entertainment, dining, and shopping promenade.

1993
1993

Universal's Jurassic Park premieres

With more than $1 billion in global box-office receipts, Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park is one of the most successful films in history.

Universal and Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List premieres

The film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

1993
1993
NBC brands Thursday nights "Must See TV"
1993
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Seinfeld

Blockbuster hit ER premieres on Thursday nights on NBC

Created by novelist Michael Crichton, ER ran on NBC for 15 seasons. It received 124 Emmy nominations, making it the most-nominated TV drama in history.

1994

Landmark NBC comedy Friends premieres on Thursday nights

One of the most popular sitcoms of all time, Friends ran for 10 seasons on NBC. The cultural impact of the show includes star Jennifer Aniston’s widely-copied hairstyle, “The Rachel,” and Joey’s (Matt LeBlanc) catchphrase, “How you doin’?”

1994
1994
How YOU doin'?
Friends

The hit series 3rd Rock from the Sun debuts in the first quarter on NBC

The extraterrestrial comedy aired until 2001, gathering eight Emmy Awards along the way.

1996
1996

NBC and Microsoft launch MSNBC

The 24-hour news and information cable network combined with an interactive online service to create a new model of television and Internet integration.

1996

NBC solidifies its status as the home of the Olympics

The Games of the XXVI Olympiad took place in Atlanta, marking the third straight Summer Olympics telecast for NBC. NBC also acquired the broadcast rights to the Olympics through 2008.  During the Atlanta Games, gymnast Kerri Strug famously competed in vault despite an ankle injury, securing the U.S. women’s gymnastics team the gold medal.

1997
From NBC News, this is Today with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer live from Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza.
Today
1997

Matt Lauer becomes co-anchor of Today

Lauer, co-anchor Katie Couric, weatherman Al Roker, and news anchor Ann Curry were referred to as the Today "first family."

Seinfeld airs its final episode on NBC, attracting over 76 million viewers

Although the finale was met with mixed reviews, it was ranked fourteenth on Nielsen's list of most-watched TV shows at the time.

1998

Universal Studios Florida expands to become Universal Orlando Resort

The destination opened its second park, Islands of Adventure, the Portofino Bay Hotel and the CityWalk entertainment complex.  

1999

West Wing premieres on NBC

The critical and commercial hit explored the inner workings of the White House through an ensemble cast that included Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, and Stockard Channing.  The complex drama was developed by legendary writer and producer Aaron Sorkin.

1999

The Digital Revolution

2000

Today's media landscape is unlike anything dreamed about just a few years ago. Not only is there an amazing wealth of high-quality content available, but the American public can tune in to just about anything from anywhere, anytime, and on any device. This revolution makes the new century an exciting new age both in content and technology. For established media companies, these changes bring challenges and incredible opportunities.

2000

NBC broadcasts the XXVII Olympiad from Sydney

NBC would air 441.5 hours of taped coverage on NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC, attracting a total of 185 million viewers. NBC’s coverage garnered 10 Emmy Awards. In an electriying 400m sprinting event, Australian hometown favorite Cathy Freeman claimed the gold medal.

Universal Studios Japan stages grand opening

The first Universal theme park to be built in Asia, Universal Studios Japan shattered attendance records worldwide, reaching 1 million visitors just 37 days after opening, faster than any theme park in history.

2001
2002

The XIX Olympic Winter Games is held in Salt Lake City

This marked NBC's first coverage of the Olympic Winter Games since 1972. The Games were the second-most-watched Winter Games in history, attracting 187 million American viewers.  During the figure skating championship, gold medalist Sarah Hughes stunned with her four-minute routine in which she landed seven triple jumps.  

NBC acquires Telemundo and Bravo

The acquisition gave NBC the nation's second-largest Spanish-language broadcaster and a leading entertainment cable network. Also acquired this year was TV station KNTV in San Jose/San Francisco.

2002

NBC acquires U.S. television broadcast rights for the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games

The company would spend approximately $2.2 billion for rights to the two Olympic Games.

2003

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy debuts on Bravo

The makover show became a smash hit and transformed Bravo into a pop culture trendsetter.

2003
2003
We’re not here to change you, we’re here to make you better.
Queer Eye

Universal becomes the first studio with five summer releases breaking the $100 million mark

The summer hits were Bruce Almighty, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Hulk, Seabiscuit, and American Wedding.

2003

USA Network launches The 4400

The series would win three Emmy nominations, including one for best miniseries, and stay on the air for four hit seasons.

2004

Universal premieres The Bourne Supremacy

The film, the sequel to The Bourne Identity, would gross more than $280 million worldwide.

2004

NBC and Universal join together to create NBC Universal

The new company is a diversified media powerhouse with a broad portfolio including broadcast networks NBC and Telemundo; widely distributed cable networks such as USA Network, SCI FI, Bravo, CNBC, and MSNBC; the Universal Pictures movie studio; a television production studio; theme parks in Hollywood and Orlando; and television stations in major markets across the United States.

2004

Universal's Ray opens

The movie picked up an Oscar for Best Actor (Jamie Foxx) on its way to a worldwide box office of $125 million.

2004

Project Runway premieres on Bravo

The fashion design competition’s panel of judges included supermodel Heidi Klum, fashion journalist Nina Garcia, and designer Michael Kors.  Tim Gunn, chair at Parsons The New School for Design, served as a mentor for the contestants and became known for his catchphrase: “Make it work.”  

2004

House, produced by Universal Media Studios, premieres on Fox

House would be the No. 1 scripted show on television in 2007 and 2008.

2004
2004

Brian Williams takes over for Tom Brokaw as anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News

The NBC News flagship program continued to be the highest-rated evening newscast.

Battlestar Galactica airs on SCI FI Channel

With critical acclaim and high ratings, the debut episode would win the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Drama and the series would take home a Peabody Award.

2005

The Office premieres on NBC

Over the next few seasons, the critically acclaimed comedy series would win multiple Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, and Golden Globe awards.

2005

NBC is awarded the rights to the NFL's Sunday night primetime package

The rights deal included the 2009 and 2012 Super Bowls.

2005

Universal's The 40 Year-Old Virgin opens

Starring Steve Carell from NBC's The Office, the film would gross more than $175 million worldwide.

2005

Focus Features' Pride & Prejudice opens

The film would gross more than $120 million worldwide and receive four Academy Award nominations.

2005

Universal Pictures' King Kong opens

The movie would gross more than $550 million worldwide and win three Oscars.

2005
2005
It was beauty killed the beast.
King Kong
2005

Focus Features premieres Brokeback Mountain

The groundbreaking movie would become Focus Features' top-grossing film ever and win three Academy Awards in addition to the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release.

2005
I wish I knew how to quit you.
Brokeback Mountain

Sleuth, a digital cable channel dedicated to crime and mystery programming, launches on NBC

The channel would be rebranded as Cloo in August 2011. 

2006
2006

NBC Universal kicks off coverage of the Winter Olympics from Torino, Italy

The company's networks would broadcast an unprecedented 416 hours of programming.  American speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno captured the gold in the 500m event.

The Housewives phenomenon begins

Bravo’s first iteration of its signature franchise began with The Real Housewives of Orange County in 2006.  Viewers tuned in to catch the dramatic lives of the affluent housewives, and a reality show powerhouse was born.  The water cooler sensation led to spinoffs in New York, Atlanta, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Beverly Hills, and Miami.

2006

USA network launches Psych

The show would be the No. 1 new cable series of 2006.

2006

The NFL returns to NBC for the first time since the 1997 season

NBC's debut broadcast was the Thursday-night season-opener between the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins.

2006

30 Rock premieres on NBC

Starring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, the critically acclaimed comedy would dominate the awards landscape during the next few seasons, with multiple Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, and Golden Globe awards.

2006
2006
What the what?
30 Rock
2006

Meredith Vieira makes her debut as co-anchor of Today

Vieira replaced Katie Couric as co-anchor of the morning news program and quickly became a beloved part of the Today family.

CNBC launches CNBC.com

The site is the financial news network's popular online destination for the latest stock market news, information, and headlines.

2006

USA Network begins unprecedented streak as the No. 1 cable entertainment network

The network’s unparalleled success was driven by original programming such as Monk, Psych, White Collar, and Burn Notice.

2006

Universal enters term deal with Chris Meledandri to head up a new animated film division at Universal

Meledandri had previously served as head of 20th Century Fox Animation. The partnership would eventually develop the Despicable Me franchise.

2007

Burn Notice premieres on USA Network

The series would be the No. 1 new cable series of 2007.

2007

Universal Pictures ends the summer with four $100 million-plus hits

The summer hits were Knocked Up, Evan Almighty, The Bourne Ultimatum, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

2007

NBC Universal completes acquisition of Oxygen Media

With the acquisition of Oxygen, NBC Universal added one of the nation’s leading female-focused cable networks to its portfolio.

2007

NBC Sports broadcasts the first-ever outdoor NHL game held in the United States, the inaugural Winter Classic

Since then, the Winter Classic has become a perennial fan favorite.

2008

Video website Hulu launches

The innovative joint venture of NBC Universal and News Corp. (now Comcast, 21st Century Fox, and Walt Disney Co.) provides premium content to users online for free in an ad-based environment.

2008

Kathie Lee Gifford joins Hoda Kotb as co-host of the fourth hour of Today on NBC

The fourth hour of the long-running program launched in September 2007.  

2008

The Simpsons Ride opens at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood

The ride takes guests on a thrilling adventure with the Simpson family, incorporating the show's classic humor and instantly recognizable characters, all voiced by the original actors.

2008

In Plain Sight premieres on USA Network

The series would become the No. 1 new cable series of 2008.

2008

NBC Universal, along with two equity partners, acquires The Weather Channel

The addition of The Weather Channel to NBC Universal's NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC makes the company the leading provider of news, information, and weather, both online and on television.

2008

Mamma Mia! opens in the U.S. and then expands globally to great success

Mamma Mia! would become the top-grossing movie of all time in the U.K. Global box-office revenues would surpass $600 million.

2008
2008

NBC Universal begins coverage of the Summer Olympic Games from Beijing

At the time, the Games would be the most-watched television event in U.S. history, with 215 million Americans tuning in.  Swimming phenomenon Michael Phelps made history by becoming the the most successful Olympic athlete of all time with eight gold medals.  

NBC Universal acquires Carnival Film & Television Ltd., a U.K.-based television production company

Carnival would go on to produce the critically and commercially acclaimed series Downton Abbey.

2008

The Rachel Maddow Show debuts on MSNBC with the most successful show launch in network history

Host Rachel Maddow went on to win numerous awards, including a Gracie Allen Award for Individual Achievement.

2008

Telemundo and Grupo Televisa announce an agreement to broadcast soccer matches of the premier Mexican teams in the U.S.

The deal strengthened Telemundo's position as the home of the best in sports programming for U.S. Hispanics.

2008

David Gregory joins Meet the Press

Gregory became moderator of the Sunday morning news program in December 2008 following Tim Russert’s untimely passing.

2008

NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien signs off after 16 seasons

Conan O’Brien briefly replaced Jay Leno in the iconic Tonight Show slot as Leno took on a new gig as the host of the short-lived Jay Leno Show at 10 p.m.

2009

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon premieres on NBC

The SNL alum made his hosting debut with guests Robert De Niro and Justin Timberlake. 

2009

Parks and Recreation premieres on NBC

With a beloved ensemble cast led by Saturday Night Live’s Amy Poehler, the hit comedy show would air for 7 seasons, receiving 14 Emmy nominations and helping launch the careers of Chris Pratt, star of Universal’s Jurassic World, and comedians Aziz Ansari and Nick Offerman. 

2009
2009
Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Don’t teach a man to fish…and feed yourself. He’s a grown man. And fishing’s not that hard.
Parks and Recreation

SCI FI Channel relaunches

The sixteen-year-old cable channel rebranded with a new name and logo: Syfy – still pronounced "sci fi."

2009

After eight seasons on air, Monk ends its run on the USA Network

The show was the first basic cable series to have its repeats air in primetime on two broadcast networks. With 9.4 million viewers tuning in, the series finale set a record for the most-watched episode of a drama series on basic cable.  And by the show's end, Tony Shalhoub had won multiple Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a SAG Award for his role as the eponymous eccentric detective.  

2009

The Age of Comcast

2010

Comcast completed its acquisition of NBCUniversal in January 2011. The years since have seen an unprecedented level of investment in the company’s core businesses, a clear sign that Comcast is committed to making NBCUniversal a global leader among media and entertainment companies.  

2010

NBC Universal begins coverage of the Winter Olympics from Vancouver, Canada

With more than 835 hours of coverage on six platforms, NBC Universal would offer more hours than the last two Winter Olympics combined.  U.S. snowboarder Shaun White scored the gold medal in men's halfpipe with his signature move, the Double McTwist 1260.

Universal's Islands of Adventure debuts The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The themed area would quickly become a global sensation, setting records for guest satisfaction and business results. 

2010
2010

Universal's Despicable Me premieres

The blockbuster became Universal Pictures' seventh-highest opening film of all time, and one of the most profitable films in Universal's history.

Top Chef nabs an Emmy

Bravo’s culinary competition show won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program.

2010
2010
Your time starts now.
Top Chef

NBCUniversal is born

Comcast and General Electric finalize their agreement to form a joint venture consisting of NBC Universal businesses and Comcast's cable networks, regional sports networks, and certain digital properties and unconsolidated investments.

2011

La Reina del Sur premieres on Telemundo

The telenovela, based on the international best-selling novel, starred Kate del Castillo and ran for 63 episodes.  The series finale scored the highest-rated broadcast in Telemundo’s 19-year history with 4.2 million viewers tuning in.  

2011

NBC Sports and the National Hockey League announce a 10-year television and media rights deal

Under the agreement, NBC remained the exclusive network home and VERSUS the exclusive cable home of the NHL in the U.S.

2011

The Voice debuts on NBC

The first season of the blockbuster vocal competition featured coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, and CeeLo Green.  The show’s innovative format includes four stages of competition: blind auditions, battle rounds, knockouts, and live performance shows.  Since debuting in 2011, The Voice has become a staple of NBC’s primetime lineup.  

2011

Universal’s Bridesmaids premieres

Star Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live) wrote the Academy Award-nominated screenplay with Annie Mumolo.  The female-led comedy, a hit with critics, dominated the box office with nearly $290 million in global box office receipts.

2011
2011
You're like the maid of dishonor.
Bridesmaids

Universal Pictures' Fast Five, the fifth installment in the franchise, opens to $86.2 million at the North American box office

The movie represented the biggest 3-day opening weekend in Universal history and the biggest April opening ever, besting Universal's previous installment, Fast & Furious.

2011

NBCUniversal acquires U.S. media rights to the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games

Valued at $4.38 billion, the deal means that at the conclusion of the 2020 Games, NBC will have broadcast 11 consecutive Olympics.

2011

NBCUniversal acquires the 50% of Universal Studios Orlando that it did not already own from Blackstone

The move reflected NBCUniversal's long-term commitment to the theme park business.

2011

NBCUniversal signs a deal to extend its NFL rights package through the 2022 season

The agreement includes new features such as upgraded playoff coverage and an annual primetime game broadcast on Thanksgiving beginning in 2012. In addition to the 2012 Super Bowl, NBC will broadcast the Super Bowl in 2015, 2018 and 2021.

2011

Cable sports network Versus is re-launched as the NBC Sports Network

The channel is a 24/7 destination for the same award-winning storytelling and top-shelf production that has been synonymous with NBC Sports for over 60 years.

2012

Universal's Dr. Seuss' The Lorax debuts

The family film notched the biggest box-office debut weekend of the year at that point, with more than $70 million in domestic box-office receipts.

2012

Transformers: The Ride 3D opens at Universal Studios Hollywood

Based on the popular film franchise, the theme park's most ambitious ride ever created takes guests on an epic adventure as they fight the Decepticons alongside Optimus Prime.

2012

Focus Features' Moonrise Kingdom premieres

During its opening weekend, the Wes Anderson-directed film set the record for the highest per-screen average for a live-action movie.

2012

Universal’s Ted debuts

Ted, the directorial debut of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, had the third-best opening ever for an R-rated comedy at $54.1 million.  The sequel is set to be released in 2015.

2012

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem opens at Universal Studios Florida

A dedicated team from Chris Meledandri's Illumination Entertainment worked alongside Universal Orlando to create a hilarious new storyline and animation for this incredile 3D adventure that features characteres voiced by the original actors from the hit movie.

2012
2012

The London Olympics are watched by 219 million Americans on the channels of NBCUniversal

These Olympic Games were the most-watched event in U.S. history.  Volleyball duo Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won their third consecutive gold medal in their final match as a team.

NBC’s America's Got Talent is the No. 1 summer series for a seventh year in a row

This season, Howard Stern joined Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel to make up the panel of judges. 

2012
2012

Les Miserables premieres on Christmas Day

Unique among films of this type, the movie's vocals were recorded live during filming, rather than prerecorded in a studio with the actors lip-syncing on set.

Syfy teams up with Trio Worlds to produce Defiance

Defiance represents the first-ever convergence of television and online gaming, featuring an interconnected world and storylines that co-exist on both platforms.

2013
2013

Fast & Furious 6 premieres

Opening Memorial Day weekend, the movie would represent the highest-grossing weekend in Universal's history with $120 million in ticket sales.

TRANSFORMERS: The Ride - 3D opens at Universal Studios Florida

The attraction had already gained "must-see" status at Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Hollywood. It was built at Universal Studios Florida in one year - the fastest build time in Universal history. 

2013

Universal Pictures partners with Legendary Entertainment

The five-year partnership includes a production, co-financing and distribution deal.  Legendary Entertainment served as the co-producer of such films as The Dark Knight and The Hangover.  

2013

Universal’s Despicable Me 2 premieres

The film would be the No. 1 animated movie of 2013 and gross nearly $1 billion worldwide.

2013

The hit Syfy original film Sharknado takes the social media world by storm

The buzz surrounding the made-for-TV movie would lead to multiple encore presentations, midnight move theater screenings, and a sequel.

2013
2013
We're gonna need a bigger chopper.
Sharknado

Universal Pictures crosses the $2 billion mark at the international box office for the first time in the studio's 101-year history

The studio's success was driven by hits like Fast & Furious 6 and Despicable Me 2.

2013

Esquire Network launches

The entertainment and lifestyle network, a strategic partnership between NBCUniversal and Hearst Magazines, debuted with a slate of both original and acquired programming.  One original series, Knife Fight, showcases underground culinary battles hosted by Top Chef winner Ilan Hall.

2013

The NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group assumes full ownership of Sprout

Sprout is the first 24-hour preschool network.  Chica, the start of Sprout's Sunny Side Up Show, has the become the network's brand icon.  The daily show is currently broadcast live from 30 Rock.

2013

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics reach more Americans via more platforms than any other Winter Olympics in history

There were a record 242.3 million media exposures of Olympics coverage across NBCUniversal's broadcast, cable, and digital properties.

2014

NBCUniversal acquires U.S. media rights to an additional six Olympics Games through to 2032

Valued at $7.65 billion, the deal is the longest U.S. Olympic sports rights agreement in history, and will extend NBCUniversal's streak of consecutive Olympics broadcasts to 17.

2014

NBCUniversal reaches a new long-term deal with World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.

The agreement extended the run of Raw on USA, SmackDown on Syfy, and Total Divas on E!

2014

NBC is No. 1 for the 2013-14 season

For the first time in 10 years, NBC won the 2013-14 season in adults 18-49 with help from the Sochi Olympics, reality hit The Voice, breakout drama The Blacklist, and Jimmy Fallon’s revitalized Tonight Show.

2014

Universal Studios Florida unveils The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley doubles the size of the sweeping area already dedicated to Harry Potter's adventures at Universal Orlando - creating the world's first centrally-themed, multi-park experience.

2014

Universal’s Unbroken is Christmas Day hit

Unbroken, the inspirational drama about Olympian war hero Louis Zamperini (played by Jack O’Connell), opened on Christmas Day with more than $15 million in domestic box-office revenues and garnered nearly $50 million in its first four days, doubling industry expectations. 

2014

Super Bowl XLIX on NBC is the most-watched show in U.S. television history

More than 114 million viewers tuned in to NBC to watch the New England Patriots come from behind to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, giving the telecast the biggest audience in the history of U.S. television.

2015

NBC broadcasts the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special

NBC’s broadcast of the live special commemorating the show’s 40th year on the air was the network’s top-rated entertainment program in more than 10 years, with more than 25 million viewers.

2015

Universal's Furious 7 premieres

Opening on April 3, Furious 7 is the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time, with more than $1.5 billion worldwide. A critical as well as commercial success, the movie is Universal’s first film to cross the $1 billion threshold during its initial run. 

2015
2015

American Pharoah wins the Triple Crown

With his commanding win of the 147th Belmont Stakes (to follow up wins at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes), American Pharoah became the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years. NBC Sports' telecast was the third-most-watched ever, with an audience of 22 million.   

The Wiz Live! premieres on NBC

On December 3, NBC’s live performance of The Wiz reached 11.5 million viewers. The star-studded cast featured Mary J. Blige, Common, Ne-Yo, Amber Riley, Uzo Aduba, David Alan Grier, and Queen Latifah. Dorothy was played by newcomer Shanice Williams in her first major television role. 

2015

Adele Live in New York is NBC’s most-watched television concert in over a decade

The Grammy winner’s one-hour concert special, Adele Live in New York, aired on NBC on December 14 to 11.2 million viewers. Broadcast from Radio City Music Hall, the performance was Adele’s first U.S. concert in years.

2015

Universal sets global box-office records

Universal is the first studio to ever have three movies in a single year gross more than $1 billion, and the first ever to reach $4 billion at the international box office and $6 billion worldwide. 

2015

El Señor de los Cielos breaks ratings records for Telemundo

The season four premiere of El Señor de los Cielos reached 2.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched series debut in Telemundo history. 

2016