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
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.
Universal City opens its gates
At its opening, Universal City was billed as "the only moving-picture city in the world."
The Birth of the National Experience
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
The Golden Age of Radio
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.
Universal becomes king of the horror movie
Dracula and Frankenstein marked the beginning of Universal's leadership in the horror genre.
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.
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.
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.
NBC Radio broadcasts the 1936 Berlin Olympics
African-American athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals.
Italian maestro Arturo Toscanini makes his first appearance conducting the NBC Symphony OrchestraView Gallery
In early 1937, NBC's music director (and a friend of Toscanini) Samuel Chotzinoff sent this telegram to the famous maestro. Toscanini had just retired to his native Italy after having conducted the New York Philharmonic since 1929.
Sarnoff's bold plan works. With the promise that Toscanini could handpick his musicians and the musical repertory, Toscanini agrees to conduct 10 concerts during the upcoming season, for a fee of $4,000 each. He would end up staying 17 years.
NBC's plan to boost revenue by selling commercials during the NBC Symphony broadcasts does not get the reception NBC had hoped for.
Through NBC's radio broadcasts, Toscanini became a celebrity and a household name.
Now we add radio sight to sound.
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."
NBC begins regularly programmed television serviceView Gallery
The press release noted this event to be "the first time a news event has been covered by means of this new art."
Sarnoff's remarks were titled "The Birth of a New Industry."
The Cincinnati Reds played the Brookyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field on August 26.
The Fordham Rams battled the Wayneburg Yellow Jackets at Triborough Stadium on Randall's Island in New York City.
Two months after the birth of television, an NBC executive attempts to get TVs into the hands of employeesView Gallery
NBC executive Alfred “Doc” Morton arranged discounted prices on TV sets for NBC employees, convinced that “we must get people talking about television.”
Apparently, the first memo didn’t result in much action. Three months later, even the TV department still didn’t have a television.
The top brass had to make a tough call. No TV for you!
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 1945 parade.
Radio Unifies the Nation
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).
Abbott and Costello make Universal debut
Burlesque comic duo Bud Abbott 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.
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 test pattern equipped with a second hand ticked off a full minute, with the phrase “Bulova Watch Time” visible in the lower right corner of the screen while the “Minute Waltz” played underneath. The spot cost $9.
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…
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.
The first televised World Series is broadcast by NBC
The New York Yankees would defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers in 7 games. Nearly 4 million Americans tuned in, more than 3 million of whom watched from their local tavern.
Uncle Miltie is TV's best salesmanView Gallery
Texaco Star Theatre starring Milton Berle was TV’s first runaway hit. Driven by Berle’s success, television ownership increased in 1948 from approximately 175,000 to 1 million by year’s end.
The RCA TK40 was the first commercially available color television camera.
Musical sketches were an important part of the show's lineup.
In 1951 NBC signed Berle to an unheard-of 30-year contract.
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.
Ballet Comes to NBC: Ballet Theatre (now known as American Ballet Theatre, or ABT) made its television debut on NBC on May 22, 1949View Gallery
The four ballerinas in Anton Dolin’s restaging of the famous ballet choreographed in 1845 by Jules Perrot. Pictured are Diana Adams, Norma Vance, Jocelyn Vollmar, and Jacqueline Dodge.
This broadcast was American Ballet Theatre’s television debut.
TV Comes of Age
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.
Bob Hope makes television debut on NBC with an Easter Sunday special, Star Spangled RevueView Gallery
In 1949, Bob Hope was a big star on radio. But television had arrived. This is NBC television programming executive John Royal’s attempt to lure Bob Hope into this new medium.
Hope decided to decline the invitation and stay with radio – for the time being.
Hope didn’t hold out for long, making his NBC TV less than a year after John Royal’s invitation. His Easter Sunday show was one of the most-watched programs in the short history of television, with an audience share approaching 90%. Hope would go on to star in 284 television programs on NBC.
Thanks for the memory.
NBC pioneers daytime television with the Kate Smith Hour and introduces Sid Caesar in Your Show of ShowsView Gallery
Caesar assembled one of the greatest writing teams in the history of show business including, (standing l-r) Danny Simon, Joseph Stein, Neil Simon (seated l-r) Mel Brooks, Tony Webster, and Mel Tolkin.
The ninety-minute live production dominated Saturday night television from 1949-1954.
Beloved singer Kate Smith, famous for her rendition of "God Bless America," transitioned from radio to television with The Kate Smith Hour. The daily variety program was the first network daytime television show.
Smith, along with with her company of singers and dancers, enchanted American audiences from 1950-54. Upon the show's cancellation, NBC received 400,000 letters of protest.
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.
Just the facts, ma'am.
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.
Today becomes the first network early-morning showView Gallery
NBC executive Sylvester "Pat" Weaver sent this memo to the NBC News staff before the show's launch.
Host Dave Garroway on the first day of the Today show.
Dave Garroway at the Today show desk.
Barbara Walters would join Today as a researcher in the early 1960s.
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.
Universal releases its first 3-D film, It Came From Outer Space
The sci-fi thriller was based on a story by Ray Bradbury.
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.
This program is going to go on forever.
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.
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…
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.
NBC’s peacock logo debuts
To promote NBC’s color programming (and sales of color TV sets made by NBC’s owner, RCA), NBC introduced a brightly-colored eleven-feathered peacock logo and the famous voiceover “The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC.”
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.”
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.
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!”
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.
Margot Fonteyn Stars in “Cinderella” on NBCView Gallery
The 76 members of England’s Royal Ballet flew to New York for NBC’s broadcast of Frederic Ashton’s “Cinderella.” The ballet aired on April 29, 1957 as part of NBC’s “Producers’ Showcase.”
Cinderella’s evil stepmother reduced her to a scullery maid.
Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother sends her to the ball, transformed from scullery maid to princess.
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.
Brought to You in Living Color
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Live long and prosper.
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.
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.
Sock it to me!
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.
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. In this photo, NBC Sports’ Kyle Rote conducts the postgame interview with a victorious Namath.
Laughter Heals All Wounds
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.
What you see is what you get.
The NBC Mystery Movie, rotating three different detective series, introduces Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo
Steven Spielberg directed Lt. Colombo's first series case.
Just one more thing...
Universal's The Sting premieres
The film, which starred Paul Newman, Robert Redford, captured seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
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.
Breaking new ground, NBC launches Tomorrow, a late-late-night talk program.View Gallery
Snyder conducted lengthy and personal interviews with guests outside the usual circuit of show business personalities, such as Ayn Rand and the Dalai Lama. Seen here, Snyder interviews John Lennon, in what would be Lennon’s final televised interview.
Snyder conducted lengthy and personal interviews with guests outside the usual circuit of show business personalities, such as Ayn Rand and the Dalai Lama. Seen here, Snyder interviews John Lennon, in what would be Lennon’s final televised interview.
Snyder interviews comedian and actor Bill Murray, who had recently concluded three years with the cast of Saturday Night Live and a starring role in Caddyshack.
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.
USA Network launches
The cable channel was originally called the Madison Square Garden Network – not to be confused with regional sports network MSG.
CHiPS debuts on NBC
Larry Wilcox and Eric Estrada starred as state motorcycle patrolmen with the California Highway Patrol, better known as CHiPs.
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.
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.
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.
The Second Golden Age
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.
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.
Let's be careful out there.
I pity the fool.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NBC has its most successful season in 30 years
The network had nine of the top 20 programs, including Miami Vice and Golden Girls.
Universal's Out of Africa premieres
The film was honored with seven Oscars, including Best Picture.
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.
If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.
GE buys RCA for $6.4 billion
At the time, the deal was the largest non-oil acquisition in U.S. history. Pictured here is GE executive Bob Wright, who was named the new president of NBC.
Well, isn't that special?
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
Universal Studios Florida Opens
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.
If it’s Sunday, it’s 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.”
Universal Studio’s CityWalk opens
CityWalk expanded Universal Studios Hollywood with a three-block entertainment, dining, and shopping promenade.
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.
NBC brands Thursday nights "Must See TV"View Gallery
Jason Alexander as George Costanza and Jerry Seinfeld as himself in the "Puffy Shirt" episode.
Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane and Moose as Eddie.
A photo from Season 4 with Helen Hunt as Jamie Stemple Buchman, Yoko Ono as herself, Paul Reiser as Paul Buchman, and David Stenberg (director).
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
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.
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’?”
How YOU doin'?
No soup for you!
Jay Leno surpasses David Letterman in late-night ratings war.
With Leno's Tonight and Conan's Late Night thriving, NBC recaptured its tradition of dominance in late-night programming.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
The Digital Revolution
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.
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,…
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.
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…
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.
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.
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy debuts on Bravo
The makover show became a smash hit and transformed Bravo into a pop culture trendsetter.
We’re not here to change you, we’re here to make you better.
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.
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.
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.
NBC is awarded the rights to the NFL's Sunday night primetime package
The rights deal included the 2009 and 2012 Super Bowls.
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.
Focus Features' Pride & Prejudice opens
The film would gross more than $120 million worldwide and receive four Academy Award nominations.
Universal Pictures' King Kong opens
The movie would gross more than $550 million worldwide and win three Oscars.
It was beauty killed the beast.
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.
I wish I knew how to quit you.
Sleuth, a digital cable channel dedicated to crime and mystery programming, launches on NBC
The channel would be rebranded as Cloo in August 2011.
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.
USA network launches Psych
The show would be the No. 1 new cable series of 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.
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.
What the what?
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.
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.
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.
Burn Notice premieres on USA Network
The series would be the No. 1 new cable series of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In Plain Sight premieres on USA Network
The series would become the No. 1 new cable series of 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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
David Gregory joins Meet the Press
Gregory became moderator of the Sunday morning news program in December 2008 following Tim Russert’s untimely passing.
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.
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon premieres on NBC
The SNL alum made his hosting debut with guests Robert De Niro and Justin Timberlake.
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.
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.
SCI FI Channel relaunches
The sixteen-year-old cable channel rebranded with a new name and logo: Syfy – still pronounced "sci fi."
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.
The Age of Comcast
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.
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…
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.
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.
Your time starts now.
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.
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.
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.
You're like the maid of dishonor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Universal’s Despicable Me 2 premieres
The film would be the No. 1 animated movie of 2013 and gross nearly $1 billion worldwide.
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.
We're gonna need a bigger chopper.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
Fandango makes key acquisitions
Fandango acquired Flixster, Rotten Tomatoes, ticketing service Cinepapaya (rebranded as Fandango Latin America), and premium video on-demand service M-GO (rebranded as FandangoNOW), enhancing its reputation as the online global destination for movie lovers.
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.
NBC’s This Is Us is the No. 1 new show on all broadcast and cable television
Including viewership on platforms other than the traditional TV set, the hit show would average 21.5 million viewers. The stage was set for the show’s fall success in May, when the program’s trailer was released and quickly amassed 50 million views online.
The Secret Life of Pets garners record box office
In its opening weekend, Illumination and Universal Pictures' The Secret Life of Pets generated more than $104 million at the North American box office, making it the biggest weekend ever for an original film, animated or otherwise. The movie would go on to become the highest-grossing original film in history, with worldwide box office receipts of more than $875 million.
NBCUniversal announces its largest movie acquisition ever
NBCUniversal inked a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television to gain U.S. broadcast and cable network television rights to J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World Franchise, which includes all eight Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts films, Universal Parks content, and more. Beginning July 1, 2018, NBCUniversal will be able to air the Harry Potter movies on networks in its portfolio such as USA and Syfy.
NBCUniversal acquires DreamWorks Animation
In August 2016, NBCUniversal completed its acquisition of DreamWorks Animation, expanding its family entertainment portfolio with film franchises such as Shrek and Kung Fu Panda.
USA Network receives its first Emmy nomination and win for a drama series
"Please tell me you're seeing this too." Rami Malek, star of USA Network's hit series Mr. Robot, addressed the crowd as he accepted the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. This Emmy was USA Network's first ever nomination and win for a drama series, and it was Malek's first Emmy nomination and win.
MSNBC has its most-watched year ever
MSNBC hit its stride in 2016, attracting its biggest audience since its 1996 debut, with all-time highs in multiple dayparts and key shows such as Morning Joe, The Rachel Maddow Show, and more.
The Fate of the Furious has biggest global opening of all time
After a $542 million global opening, the 8th installment of the Fast and Furious franchise crossed the $1 billion mark at the international box office, becoming the 6th film in history to reach this milestone. The popular franchise has now grossed over $5 billion globally.
Universal Orlando opens “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon”
The innovative and immersive attraction takes guests on an action-packed race through the Big Apple, against Jimmy Fallon himself.
In its 42nd season, SNL sees its ratings soar to a 23-year high
This year’s hot political climate boosted SNL viewership to an average of 11 million viewers per episode. The show’s trenchant take on presidential politics helped it secure 22 Emmy nominations, the most in the show's four-decade history.
Volcano Bay opens at Universal Orlando Resort
With its innovative technology, such as a wearable device that lets visitors virtually wait in line while enjoying other areas of the park, Volcano Bay set a new standard for water theme parks. The park’s 18 discrete attractions deploy more than 10,000 linear feet of track, with the highest vertical drop coming in at 125 feet.
Despicable Me becomes top-grossing animated film franchise ever
Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 crossed the $1 billion dollar mark, securing the franchise’s spot as the highest-grossing animated series of all time. Internationally, the latest of the four films in the franchise smashed animation records in China with a $66 million opening weekend.
Telemundo is No. 1
For the first time in its history, Telemundo finished 2017 as the No. 1 Spanish-language broadcast network in weekday primetime.
Hoda Kotb named Today show co-anchor
Hota Kotb joined Savannah Guthrie as co-anchor of Today, marking the first time in the program’s 66-year history that Today has been led by two female anchors.
Goooal! for Telemundo
With its Spanish-language broadcasts of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Telemundo Deportes set new network records, reaching 37 million viewers in the U.S. Seen here, iconic announcer Andrés Cantor.
Universal’s Green Book wins Oscars for best picture, original screenplay, and supporting actor
Directed by Peter Farrelly and starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, Green Book is inspired by the true story of black concert pianist Don Shirley and his Italian-American bodyguard and driver Tony Vallelonga, on a road trip through the pre-civil rights Deep South.
Universal Orlando Resort opens Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Featuring rich sets, an actual forest with more than 1,200 trees, groundbreaking coaster technology, and a captivating storyline, the world’s first “story coaster” opened June 13.
USA Network is highest-rated entertainment cable network
For the 14th consecutive year, USA Network is cable television’s highest-rated entertainment network in total viewers.
NBC News is No. 1 across the board
NBC News’s marquee programs – Today, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and Meet the Press – are ranked No. 1 for the fourth straight season.