On January 28, 2011, NBCUniversal opened a new chapter in its history with its acquisition by Comcast Corporation, one of the nation’s leading providers of entertainment, information and communication products and services. With this transaction Comcast fulfilled a longstanding dream to be a leader in not just the distribution but also the creation of entertainment, news, and sports programming. At the same time, NBCUniversal bolstered its already robust portfolio of cable channels, adding Comcast’s networks such as E!, Style, Versus (now called NBC Sports Network), Golf Channel, and Comcast SportsNet.
The full story of NBCUniversal reaches back more than a century and involves two visionary entrepreneurs, David Sarnoff, the founder of NBC, and Carl Laemmle, who created Universal. NBCUniversal was formed in 2004 when these two entities merged to create a media powerhouse owned by General Electric and Vivendi. With the company’s acquisition by Comcast, a third visionary entrepreneur takes his place alongside Sarnoff and Laemmle as a key figure in the annals of the company: Ralph J. Roberts, who in 1963 bought a tiny cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi, setting in motion a remarkable American business success story called Comcast.
All three companies were founded by men of modest origins who were propelled by their visions of a new industry—movies, broadcasting, and cable distribution—and enthusiastic about the possibilities they represented for commerce and for the common good. Laemmle, Sarnoff, and Roberts dedicated themselves to turning their visions into the reality that represents Comcast and NBCUniversal today.
The story of Universal began in 1906 when German immigrant Carl Laemmle opened his first nickelodeon theater. Three years later, he established the Independent Moving Pictures Company of America, thus becoming involved in all three phases of film: production, distribution, and exhibition. On March 15, 1915, Laemmle officially opened the gates to Universal City, the world’s first self-contained community dedicated to moviemaking. Among the thousands of visitors in attendance that day was Thomas Edison, founding father of the General Electric Co. In October 1915, Edison returned to Universal City to dedicate the studio’s state-of-the-art electric studio.
At about the same time, in New York City, a young Russian immigrant named David Sarnoff wrote a memo to his manager at the American Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. In his “Radio Music Box” memo, Sarnoff imagined a world connected by wireless communication that would bring information and entertainment into the home. This audacious vision would become reality in 1926 with the first broadcast of the National Broadcasting Company.
Through the remainder of the twentieth century, these two companies, Universal Studios and NBC, would create extraordinary legacies of accomplishment in the exciting new worlds of motion picture production and distribution, location-based entertainment, and radio and television production and broadcasting.
On May 12, 2004, the parallel histories of the two companies converged, in the creation of a powerful new media entity, NBCUniversal.
May 12: NBC Universal is created. NBC and Universal join together to create NBC Universal, 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. NBC Universal’s content is distributed to more than 200 countries around the world.
July 11: USA Network launches The 4400, which garnered three Emmy nominations, including one for best miniseries, and stayed on the air for four hit seasons.
July 23: Universal Pictures’ The Bourne Supremacy, the sequel to The Bourne Identity, opens, going on to gross more than $280 million worldwide.
August 13: NBC Universal kicks off coverage of the Summer Olympics from Athens, Greece, with an unprecedented 1,210 hours of coverage. The Games were watched by 203 million Americans—the most-watched non-U.S. Olympics in history to date.
September 19: NBC Universal wins 11 Primetime Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Kelsey Grammer in Frasier), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Allison Janney in The West Wing), and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (David Hyde Pierce in Frasier).
October 29: Universal Pictures’ Ray opens. The movie will pick up an Oscar for Best Actor (Jamie Foxx) on its way to a worldwide box office of $125 million.
November 16: House, produced by Universal Media Studios, premieres on Fox. It would be the No. 1 scripted show on television in 2007 and 2008.
December 1: Project Runway premieres on Bravo, eventually winning a Peabody Award as well as several Primetime Emmy nominations.
December 2: Brian Williams replaces Tom Brokaw as anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News. The NBC news flagship program continues to be the highest-rated evening newscast.
December 22: Universal Pictures’ Meet the Fockers opens. It would become the highest-grossing live action comedy in history at the time, earning more than $500 million worldwide.
December 31: NBC Universal ends its first fiscal year with operating profit up significantly to $2.8 billion, driven by ratings growth at the company’s cable entertainment networks and strong performances from Universal Pictures and Universal Parks & Resorts.
January 14: Battlestar Galactica airs on SCI FI Channel to 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.
January 16: NBC Universal receives two Golden Globes: Best Actor, Musical or Comedy (Jamie Foxx in Ray) and Best Actress, Drama Series (Mariska Hargitay in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit).
March 24: 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.
April 15: NBC is awarded the rights to the NFL’s Sunday night primetime package, which includes the 2009 and 2012 Super Bowls. Flexible scheduling is offered for the first time.
August 19: Universal Pictures’ The 40 Year Old Virgin opens. Starring Steve Carell from NBC’s The Office, the film would gross more than $175 million worldwide.
August 31: Focus Features’ The Constant Gardener opens. Actress Rachel Weisz would win an Oscar, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild award for her starring role.
September 18: NBC Universal wins eight Primetime Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Tony Shalhoub in Monk), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Patricia Arquette in Medium), and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (David Shore for House).
November 23: Focus Features’ Pride & Prejudice opens, going on to gross more than $120 million worldwide and receive four Academy Award nominations.
December 14: Universal Pictures’ King Kong opens, eventually grossing more than $550 million worldwide and winning three Oscars.
December 16: Focus Features’ Brokeback Mountain opens. The movie would become Focus Features’ top-grossing film ever with $180 million at the box office, and would win Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.
December 18: NBC’s Today marks 10 consecutive years in first place among morning news programs.
December 31: NBC Universal finishes its first full calendar year with double-digit growth in operating profit to more than $3 billion, driven by strength across a number of business segments, including cable entertainment, parks, and film.
January 1: Sleuth, a digital cable channel dedicated to crime and mystery programming, launches.
January 16: NBC Universal receives seven Golden Globes, including Best Drama (Brokeback Mountain), Best Director (Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain), and Best Actor, Comedy or Musical (Steve Carell in The Office).
February 10: NBC Universal kicks off coverage of the Winter Olympics from Torino, Italy, with an unprecedented 416 hours of programming.
March 5: NBC Universal wins seven Academy Awards, including Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener), Best Director (Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain), and Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana for Brokeback Mountain).
March 6: NBC Universal announces the acquisition of iVillage, one of the nation’s most successful women-oriented websites.
May 12: Jerry Springer, which is distributed by NBC Universal, celebrates its 3000th episode, highlighting excerpts from past episodes.
June 2: Universal Pictures’ The Break-Up opens. The comedy will go on to gross more than $200 million worldwide.
July 7: USA network launches Psych, which goes on to become the No. 1 new cable series of 2006.
July 15: MSNBC, the only leading news source with a leading online companion, MSNBC.com, celebrates its 10th anniversary.
August 27: NBC Universal wins seven Primetime Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series (The Office), Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Tony Shalhoub in Monk), and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Megan Mullally in Will & Grace).
September 1: Bob Wright marks his 20th anniversary at the helm of NBC Universal.
September 7: NBC returns to the NFL for the first time since the 1997 season, broadcasting the Thursday night season opener between the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins.
September 9: Access Hollywood celebrates 10 years in national syndication.
September 13: Meredith Vieira makes her debut as co-anchor of Today.
September 18: Universal Pictures and Top Up TV enter into an agreement to launch PictureBox, a subscription-on-demand service in the U.K.
September 25: Heroes premieres on NBC.
October 11: 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.
December 4: CNBC.com launches, the financial news network’s online destination for the latest stock market news, information, and headlines.
December 8: Development of Universal Studios Singapore is announced with a grand opening target of 2010. The park is seamlessly woven into a signature resort designed in collaboration with world-renowned architect Michael Graves and harmoniously integrated within the sensitive landscape of Sentosa Island. Universal Studios Singapore will be the first world-class theme park in Southeast Asia.
January 15: NBC Universal wins two Golden Globes: Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy (Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock), and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama (Hugh Laurie in House, produced by Universal Media Studios).
January 17: Universal enters term deal with Chris Meledandri (previous head of 20th Century Fox Animation) to head up a new animated film division at Universal.
February 6: Jeff Zucker is named President and CEO of NBC Universal.
April 4: NBC Universal wins 5 Peabody Awards.
April 30: NBC Sports wins 9 Sports Emmy Awards, more than any other broadcast or cable network.
April 30: Development of Universal Studios Dubailand is announced in Dubai, UAE. Universal Studios Dubailand will be the first world-class theme park in the Middle East, incorporating environmental characteristics of the destination into its design.
May 24: NBC Universal launches Green Is Universal, a comprehensive program to improve the environmental impact of its operations by reducing greenhouse gases, raising awareness about green issues, and stimulating change in the media and entertainment industry.
May 31: USA Network premieres the miniseries The Starter Wife, which would go on to earn a record-breaking 10 Emmy nominations, a WGA, DGA, Golden Globe, and SAG nominations.
June 5: Ron Meyer signs new five-year contract as President and COO of Universal Studios through at least 2012 and becomes one of film industry’s longest-serving studio heads.
June 15: NBCU wins 6 Daytime Emmy Awards.
June 18: NBC Wins 18 Murrow Awards: NBC News and NBC Stations are honored with 18 national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.
June 28: Burn Notice series premiere airs on USA Network, going on to become the No. 1 new cable series of 2007.
August 31: Universal Pictures ends the summer with four $100 million-plus hits: Knocked Up, Evan Almighty, The Bourne Ultimatum, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
September 10: Today launches its fourth hour.
September 16: Dead Zone ends its six-year run on USA Network.
September 16: NBC Universal wins seven Emmy Awards, more than any other broadcast network, including statues for Outstanding Comedy Series (30 Rock), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (Judy Davis in USA’s The Starter Wife), and Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program (Late Night with Conan O’Brien).
September 24: Chuck debuts on NBC; NBC News wins 4 News Emmy Awards.
October 23: NBC Universal acquires Sparrowhawk Holdings and its significant portfolio of international pay TV channels. With the deal, NBCU expands its Global Networks to more than 30 channels worldwide.
November 4: Green Is Universal presents an unprecedented company-wide weeklong programming effort in which every division of NBCU devotes its resources and time to help raise awareness, educate, and activate consumers about environmental causes.
November 13: NBC Television Stations Division changes its name to the NBC Local Media Division, reflecting its focus on evolving its local product offerings through stronger broadband and digital properties that span the wide array of media platforms available to consumers.
November 20: NBC Universal completes acquisition of Oxygen Media, one of the nation’s leading female-focused cable networks. Part of NBCU’s strategy to transform its portfolio and focus on assets with potential for rapid growth, the acquisition strengthens NBC Universal’s leadership in female-focused media.
December 4: NBC Universal’s CNBC wins two Emmy Awards for Business & Financial Reporting.
December 17: Focus Features launches www.filminfocus.com, a unique site established as an online destination for film lovers around the world.
December 31: NBC Universal generates operating profit of $3.5 billion in 2007, its best year ever. Growth is driven by record-breaking results at Universal Pictures, Universal Parks & Resorts, and Cable Entertainment.
January 1: NBC Sports broadcasts the first-ever outdoor NHL game held in the United States, the inaugural “Winter Classic.”
January 13: NBC Universal garners three Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture, Drama (Atonement), Best Original Score, Motion Picture (Atonement), and Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy (Tina Fey in 30 Rock).
January 17: Disaster! ride opens at Universal Orlando.
January 27: NBC Local Media Division acquires LX.TV, a producer of local entertainment programming.
January 29: NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker delivers keynote address at NATPE annual meeting. In response to technological developments and shifts in consumer behavior, Zucker calls for a “re-engineering of our businesses, from top to bottom, both at the network level and at local stations.”
March 5: NBCU Local Media Division acquires Skycastle Entertainment, a developer of custom marketing plans for local advertisers.
March 12: Video website Hulu launches. The innovative joint venture of NBC Universal and News Corp. provides premium content to users online for free in an ad-based environment.
April 1: NBCU Global Networks launches one of its most successful channel brands, SCI FI, for the first time in Japan. The launch, part of Global Networks ongoing channels expansion plan, is the first in Asia.
April 7: Kathie Lee Gifford joins Hoda Kotb as co-host of the fourth hour of Today.
April 28: NBC Universal wins three Sports Emmy Awards for Sunday Night Football.
May 5: NBC News launches iCue, a free, online, collaborative learning environment for students and lifelong learners. It includes discussion forums, fun games and activities, and hundreds of current and historic videos from NBC News.
May 7: NBC Universal launches Women@NBCU, a female-targeted sales and marketing initiative.
May 19: The Simpsons Ride opens at Universal Orlando and Universal 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.
May 27: NBC Universal Global Networks announces the launch of two of its most successful brands in Russia, Universal Channel and SCI FI.
June 1: In Plain Sight premieres on USA Network, going on to become the No. 1 new cable series of 2008.
June 14: NBC Sports broadcasts the first-ever U.S. Open golf championship scheduled for primetime.
July 6: NBC Universal, along with two equity partners, acquires the Weather Channel. The addition of the Weather Channel to NBCU’s NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC makes the company the leading provider of news, information, and weather, both online and on television.
July 6: NBC Sports’ “Breakfast at Wimbledon” coverage of the epic Gentlemen’s Final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, which stretched from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. ET, earned the best ratings for a Gentlemen’s Final in eight years.
July 18: Mamma Mia! opens in the U.S. and then expands globally to great success, including becoming the top-grossing movie of all time in the U.K. Global box-office revenues would surpass $600 million.
August 8: NBC Universal begins coverage of the Summer Olympic Games from Beijing. The Games would be the most-watched television event in U.S. history, with 215 million Americans tuning in.
August 20: NBC Universal acquires Carnival Film & Television Ltd, a U.K.-based television production company.
September 5: USA Network airs the 100th episode of the Emmy Award-winning series Monk.
September 8: The Rachel Maddow Show premieres on MSNBC, going on to out-rate CNN’s Larry Ling Live after seven weeks. Host Rachel Maddow also went on to win a Gracie Allen Award for Individual Achievement.
September 9: NBC Universal and Apple announce the return of NBC Universal programming to iTunes. For the first time, content providers will be able to offer consumers their products over iTunes with flexibility in pricing and packaging, rather than being restricted by a “one-price-fits-all” model.
September 21: NBC Universal wins 17 Emmy Awards, including four for 30 Rock, 11 total for NBC, and three for SCI FI.
September 28: Telemundo and Grupo Televisa announce an agreement to broadcast soccer matches of the premier Mexican teams in the U.S., strengthening Telemundo’s position as the home of the best in sports programming for U.S. Hispanics.
December 1: Mamma Mia! The Movie becomes the biggest selling DVD of all time in the U.K. and Nordic region.
December 14: David Gregory makes his debut as moderator of Meet the Press, the longest-running show on television.
December 17: USA Network celebrates its third straight year as the No. 1 cable network, marking the best year ever for a network in the history of cable and the first time a cable network has out-rated a broadcast network.
December 31: NBC Universal concludes another year of record financial performance, with the company’s major cable networks—USA, SCI FI, Bravo, Oxygen, CNBC, MSNBC—all ending the year with record ratings and profitability, and Universal Pictures having its best-ever year at the box office, generating $2.8 billion in box-office revenue.
January 11: NBC Universal wins four Golden Globe Awards, including Best Actor, Comedy or Musical (Colin Farrell in In Bruges), Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical (30 Rock), and two wins for Best Actress and Best Actor in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical (Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock).
January 25: NBC Universal wins five Screen Actors Guild Awards, including three for 30 Rock.
February 1: NBC broadcasts first Super Bowl in 11 years, setting a record for largest TV viewing audience ever.
February 20: Late Night with Conan O’Brien signs off after 16 seasons.
February 22: Focus Features picks up two Academy Awards for Milk: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sean Penn) and Best Original Screenplay (Dustin Vance Black).
March 1: NBC Universal begins producing exclusive programming for American Airlines flights around the world, delivering a wide array of content from the company’s broadcast, cable, and film divisions.
March 2: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon premieres on NBC.
March 19: President Barack Obama appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, becoming the first sitting president to appear on a late-night television show.
March 20: Battlestar Galactica concludes its four-year run on SCI FI. The two-hour finale is watched by 2.4 million viewers, the show’s most-watched episode in more than three years.
April 1: Telemundo launches “Hazte Contar!” The public service campaign is designed to educate and increase awareness of the 2010 census among Hispanics.
April 1: NBC Universal is honored with three Peabody Awards in three distinct genres—news, sports, and entertainment.
April 2: NBC’s hit drama ER concludes its 15-year run. One of television’s all-time great shows, ER was the No. 1 drama on TV for 10 seasons and is the most Emmy-nominated show in history.
April 3: Universal Pictures’ Fast & Furious opens. The fourth installment of the franchise grossed over $100 million worldwide in its opening weekend and broke several box office records, including the biggest April movie opening ever, and the biggest three-day opening in Universal’s history.
April 17: CNBC celebrates its 20th anniversary by ringing the opening and closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, becoming one of the first organizations to ring the bell twice on the same day. It was the largest group to ever ring a closing or opening bell in NYSE’s history.
April 27: NBC Sports wins 11 Emmy Awards, the most of any network.
May 2: NBC Sports broadcasts Kentucky Derby. The coverage was seen by more than 16 million viewers, making it the most-watched Kentucky Derby in 20 years.
May 5: NBC.com wins six Webby Awards, including the Heroes and The Office webisodes as well as the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon web series and NBC Rewind, NBC.com’s full episode player.
May 12: NBC Universal celebrates its fifth anniversary.
July 7: SCI FI Channel relaunches with new name and logo: Syfy—pronounced “sci fi.”
September 20: NBC Universal wins 20 Emmy Awards, including 5 for 30 Rock, which claimed its third consecutive win for Outstanding Comedy Series.
December 3: Comcast and GE announce their plans to form a joint venture consisting primarily of NBC Universal businesses and Comcast’s cable networks, regional sports networks, and certain digital properties.
December 4: 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.
February 12: NBCU begins coverage of the Winter Olympics from Vancouver, Canada, with more than 835 hours of coverage on six platforms, more hours than the last two Winter Olympics combined.
March 1: Jay Leno returns to his role as host of NBC’s Tonight Show, which he had previously hosted from May 1992 until May 2009.
July 9: Despicable Me becomes Universal Pictures’ seventh-highest opening film of all time, and one of the most profitable films in Universal’s history. It is the highest-grossing animated film ever distributed by a studio other than Disney or DreamWorks.
July 13: USA Network debuts the CIA drama Covert Affairs, continuing USA’s tradition of launching the hottest shows on cable for a fifth year in a row.
September 26: NBC News presents the inaugural Education Nation, an initiative with the goal of starting a national conversation about the state of education in the United States. The three-day event marks an unprecedented gathering of leaders in education, business, and government along with parents, teachers, and students.
January 28: Comcast and GE finalize their agreement to create a new joint venture consisting of NBC Universal’s businesses and Comcast’s cable networks, regional sports networks, and certain digital properties. The joint venture, NBCUniversal, is majority-owned and managed by Comcast.
April 19: NBC Sports and the National Hockey League announce a 10-year television and media rights deal, under which NBC remains the exclusive network home and VERSUS the exclusive cable home of the NHL in the U.S.
April 29: Universal Pictures’ Fast Five, the fifth installment in the franchise, opens to $86.2 million at the North American box office, becoming the biggest 3-day opening weekend in Universal history and the biggest April opening ever, besting Universal’s previous installment, Fast & Furious.
June 7: NBCUniversal acquires U.S. media rights to the 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 Olympic Games for $4.38 billion. The deal means that at the conclusion of the 2020 Games, NBC will have broadcast 11 consecutive Olympics.
June 16: NBC Local Media is rebranded as NBC Owned Television Stations, to reflect NBCUniversal’s increased commitment to serving communities with local news and information across traditional broadcast and new digital platforms.
June 16: NBC Sports broadcasts Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks. With an audience of more than 8.5 million viewers, the game is the highest-rated NHL game in 37 years.
July 1: NBCUniversal acquires the 50% of Universal Orlando that it did not already own from Blackstone. The move reflects NBCUniversal’s long-term commitment to the theme park business.
October 21: Telemundo acquires Spanish-language U.S. media rights to FIFA World Cup soccer from 2015 through 2022. The agreement includes the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 2022 FIFA World Cup, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, among other FIFA events.
December 14: NBCUniversal signs 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 addition to the 2012 Super Bowl, NBC will broadcast the Super Bowl in 2015, 2018, and 2021.
January 2: Cable sports network VERSUS is relaunched 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.
February 5: Broadcast by NBC, Super Bowl XLVI sets a record as the most-watched show in U.S. television history, with more than 111 million Americans tuning in.
March 5: Universal Pictures’ Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax notches the biggest box-office debut weekend of the year, with more than $70 million in domestic box-office receipts.
March 31: Fandango ends its best first quarter in its nearly 12-year history, with a 127% surge in ticket sales compared to the same quarter a year ago.
May 14: Ratings winner America’s Got Talent makes its season 7 debut, with Howard Stern joining the show as one of the judges.
May 24: Transformers: The Ride – 3D opens at Universal Studios Hollywood, the theme park’s most ambitious ride ever created.
May 25: During its opening weekend, Focus Features’ Moonrise Kingdom sets the record for the highest per-screen average for a live-action movie.
June 1: Universal Pictures’ Snow White and the Huntsman exceeds expectations with a $56.3 million domestic opening weekend. The film would go on to gross more than $400 million worldwide.
June 12: NBC News and CNBC win five Edward R. Murrow Awards, including NBC News’ taking the most prestigious honor, for Overall Excellence, for the fourth consecutive year.
June 13: CNBC and Yahoo! Finance announce a content, programming, and distribution alliance, whereby the two services will deliver enhanced content across multiple media platforms to a combined 40 million online users and CNBC’s nearly 100 million households in the United States.
June 29: Ted has the highest-grossing opening weekend for an original R-rated comedy of all time with $54.1 million at the North American box office. Ted would become the highest-grossing comedy of the year and the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time with a worldwide gross of more than $500 million.
July 2: The 3D ride Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem opens at Universal Studios Florida.
July 16: NBC News assumes full control of MSNBC.com and rebrands the news site NBCNews.com.
August 12: 219 million Americans watch the London Olympics, making it the most-watched event in U.S. television history.
September 7: MSNBC is the most-watched cable news network during the Democratic National Convention Coverage.
September 27: TV viewing companion zeebox launches in the U.S. in partnership with NBCUniversal.
November 2: NBCUniversal hosts Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together, a live, one-hour benefit telethon to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy. The telethon generates nearly $23 million for the American Red Cross.
November 7: NBC News is the first broadcast news organization to call Barack Obama the projected winner of the 2012 Presidential Election, at 11:12 p.m. ET.
November 20: NBC wins its first November sweep in nine years.
December 25: Universal Pictures’ Les Miserables opened to $18.2 million on Christmas Day Tuesday, making it the second-highest Christmas Day opening in history, the highest non-weekend Christmas Day opening in history, and the highest opening day for a musical. The film reached $100 million worldwide in just 9 days in release and is expected to become one of the highest-grossing musical films in history.
December 25: Christmas Day marks Fandango’s best ever single day for ticket sales.
December 31: For the seventh year in a row, USA Network is the number one cable network in primetime in total viewers and adults 18-49.
December 31: Universal Pictures closes out 2012 with its best worldwide box office in the studio’s 100-year history, with global theatrical grosses of $3.127 billion. Altogether, Universal’s films included seven that crossed $200 million at the worldwide box office and seven that opened No. 1 at the domestic box office, more than any other studio in 2012.
1926: NBC establishes the nation’s first permanent radio network.
1927: Landmark broadcasts include the Rose Bowl (first coast-to-coast radio network broadcast), the Tunney-Dempsey heavyweight fight, and Lindbergh’s U.S. return after first transatlantic flight.
1928: NBC introduces first radio serial drama, Real Folks.
1931: NBC begins experimental TV broadcasts from atop new Empire State Building.
1933: Guest-starring on Rudy Vallee’s radio show, Bob Hope begins his long broadcasting career on NBC. The network moves into its new world headquarters in Rockefeller Center’s Radio City.
1937: Arturo Toscanini makes first appearance conducting NBC Symphony Orchestra from the then-world’s largest broadcast studio, Studio 8-H in Rockefeller Center.
1939: NBC demonstrates television at New York World’s Fair and begins regular New York TV program service. First major league baseball and pro football telecasts on NBC.
1940: First telecast of the presidential election returns.
1941: NBC’s WNBT in New York is granted FCC’s first commercial TV station license.
1946: An NBC Atlantic Coast four-city TV network is inaugurated.
1947: Meet the Press, Howdy Doody, and Kraft Television Theatre debut on NBC. First televised World Series is broadcast by NBC.
1948: Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle is TV’s first runaway hit. TV plays first major role in covering a presidential election as NBC televises the nominating conventions. The Camel Newsreel Theater is the first regularly scheduled newscast on NBC. Television ownership increases from approximately 175,000 to one million by year’s end.
1950: NBC pioneers daytime television with the Kate Smith Hour and introduces Sid Caesar in Your Show of Shows.
1951: NBC inaugurates first regular coast-to-coast TV network service and begins field tests for color TV. Dragnet debuts as one of TV’s earliest and most successful crime series.
1952: Today becomes first network early-morning news show.
1953: NBC begins first compatible color broadcasts, preceding other networks by nine years.
1954: The Tonight Show, TV’s first successful late-night talk show, debuts with Steve Allen. First TV “spectacular,” Satin and Spurs, is shown on NBC.
1955: First color coverage of sports events. NBC Radio introduces Monitor, a new weekend program service. Mary Martin stars in Peter Pan; the broadcast draws a record-breaking estimated audience of 65 million.
1956: Chet Huntley and David Brinkley gain national acclaim for their election coverage and their subsequent Huntley-Brinkley Report. Prerecorded videotape makes first appearance on The Jonathan Winters Show. Nat King Cole on NBC is first major black artist to have his own network series.
1957: Wagon Train and The Dinah Shore Chevy Show debut. Jack Paar becomes host of The Tonight Show.
1959: Bonanza, first TV Western series in color, begins its 14-year run.
1960: NBC initiates presidential TV debates (Kennedy and Nixon). First NBC White Paper is produced, beginning a long-running documentary series.
1961: NBC Saturday Night at the Movies marks the first regular network showing of a theatrical feature film.
1962: Johnny Carson takes over as host of The Tonight Show. The Virginian debuts as TV’s first 90-minute series.
1963: NBC News devotes 71 hours to the assassination and funeral of President Kennedy. NBC is the first network to devote an entire evening to a news documentary: a three-hour report on the civil rights movement.
1964: NBC presents first made-for-television movie. NBC Sports televises the Tokyo Olympic Games.
1965: Today is the first regularly scheduled program to use communications satellite transmission. NBC’s entire primetime schedule is now in color, another TV first. Bill Cosby becomes first black actor to have leading role in a series, NBC’s I Spy.
1966: Future cult hit Star Trek debuts on NBC.
1967: Ironside, the popular detective series starring Raymond Burr, debuts.
1968: A revolutionary concept in comedy, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, debuts.
1970: The Flip Wilson Show debuts.
1971: The NBC Mystery Movie, rotating three different detective series, introduces Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo.
1973: Breaking new ground, NBC launches Tomorrow, a late-late-night talk program.
1974: One of TV’s most successful family series, Little House on the Prairie, is launched.
1975: Saturday Night Live debuts, and with it, a new standard in TV comedy.
1976: NBC’s telecast of Gone With the Wind draws largest audience to date for an entertainment program.
1977: NBC movie presentation of The Godfather attracts 80 million viewers, and more than 90 million people watch the made-for-television epic Jesus of Nazareth. NBC wins broadcast rights to 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. (The games will be boycotted by the U.S. after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.)
1978: NBC’s Holocaust miniseries attracts 107 million viewers and wins 21 major awards.
1980: NBC’s miniseries Shogun wins huge audiences and critical praise.
1981: Landmark series Hill Street Blues is introduced. The innovative police series is destined to become one of TV’s most-honored programs.
1982: The debut of Late Night with David Letterman introduces a new irreverent style of TV comedy. Other innovations include the debut of NBC News Overnight. Quality primetime series such as Cheers, St. Elsewhere and Family Ties make NBC a favorite with critics.
1983: NBC programs receive 133 Emmy Award nominations—the most ever by one network—and 33 primetime awards, more than the other two networks combined. Tom Brokaw becomes the sole anchor of Nightly News.
1984: The Cosby Show debuts and quickly becomes TV’s most popular series. NBC carries first network TV stereocast: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
1985: Today airs the first-ever live telecast from the coliseum in Rome, the first time American TV cameras have been allowed inside the Pauline Chapel, the Pope’s private chapel. Pope John Paul II celebrates mass for the Today staff. NBC has its most successful season in 30 years with 9 of the top 20 programs, including Miami Vice and Golden Girls. NBC becomes the first commercial TV network to transmit all programming to stations via satellite system, and the first to institute stereocasting on a regular basis.
1986: General Electric acquires RCA and becomes NBC’s parent company. Bob Wright is named NBC’s president and chief executive officer. NBC News launches “Skycom,” a domestic and international satellite system facilitating news exchange between NBC-TV affiliates.
1987: NBC primetime programs earn 140 Emmy nominations, leading other networks for the sixth straight year. Today goes on the road to the People’s Republic of China to report on the cultural treasures of the world’s most populous nation.
1988: NBC broadcasts the Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea, the second time in history that the Games have taken place in Asia. This marks the last time that athletes from the two Germanys would compete as separate countries. Track-and-field stars Florence Griffith-Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee set new world records.
1989: The NBC hit sitcom Seinfeld, makes its debut as The Seinfeld Chronicles. The program becomes a ratings powerhouse for NBC in the 1993-94 primetime season. NBC launches CNBC, a business and financial cable TV network, and begins building a portfolio of cable properties. NBC launches “The More You Know,” a multiple award-winning public service campaign that addresses issues such as substance abuse, teen pregnancy, violence prevention, peer pressure and sexually transmitted diseases.
1990: Law & Order, the “mother ship” of the successful crime series franchise, makes its debut on NBC.
1991: NBC News Channel, the NBC affiliate news service, is launched. The service provides video, original reports and customized packages to over 200 NBC-affiliated stations.
1992: Jay Leno takes over as the new host of The Tonight Show. NBC airs the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, where the U.S. basketball Dream Team makes its debut and gymnast Shannon Miller captures America’s first all-around medal at a fully contested Olympics. Bryant Gumbel leads Today on a journey to Africa.
1993: NBC brands Thursday nights “Must See TV.” Frasier premieres, and Seinfeld and Mad About You move to Thursday nights. Conan O’Brien takes over as host of Late Night.
1994: Blockbuster hits ER and Friends premiere on Thursday nights. Saturday Night Live celebrates its 20th anniversary. NBC opens its $15 million “window-on-the-world” studio, creating a new home for Today and a popular destination for tourists from around the world. NBC launches America’s Talking, a new cable network featuring a diverse roster of innovative talk shows. NBC’s new series ER, Frasier, and Mad About You capture Peabody Awards, the first triple award for any network in the same year.
1995: Jay Leno surpasses David Letterman in late-night ratings war, and NBC recaptures tradition of dominance in late-night programming. NBC dominates the primetime Emmy nominations. CNBC Asia makes its debut as the first service to feature programming produced on three continents. The network launches NBC.com, its World Wide Web site on the Internet.
1996: NBC’s primetime lineup is No. 1 in every key category. The hit series 3rd Rock From the Sun debuts in first quarter. The network launches two new services: NBC Asia, a general news and information channel in Asia, and CNBC Europe, an ideal complement to NBC Europe. The Games of the XXVI Olympiad take place in Atlanta, Georgia, marking the third straight Summer Olympics telecast for NBC. NBC acquires the broadcast rights to the Olympics through 2008. NBC and Microsoft launch MSNBC, a 24-hour news and information cable network and interactive online service.
1997: Today celebrates 100 weeks in first place. Meet the Press celebrates its 50th anniversary. Matt Lauer becomes co-host of Today. ER’s season-opening episode is performed live.
1998: Seinfeld airs its final episode, attracting over 100 million viewers. For the third year in a row, NBC ends the season No. 1 in every key category.
1999: CNBC celebrates its 10th anniversary with distribution to 160 million homes worldwide. CNBC’s Business Center marks the first time ever a live, anchored, broadcast show is based on the NYSE floor. NBC’s new fall hits are The West Wing, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Third Watch.
2000: NBC’s broadcast of the Olympic Games in Sydney garners 185 million viewers. The Today show launches its ratings-winning third hour.
2001: NBC marks its 75th anniversary; announces 3-hour primetime special for May 2002.
2002: NBC acquires Telemundo, the nation’s second-largest Spanish-language broadcaster, entertainment cable network Bravo, and KNTV in San Jose/San Francisco. The XIX Olympic Winter Games is held in Salt Lake City, Utah. This marks NBC’s first coverage of the Olympic Winter Games since 1972. The Games are the second-most-watched Winter Games in history, attracting 187 million American viewers.
2003: NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment announce agreement to merge and form new entity called NBC Universal. NBC acquires television rights for 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games. NBC claims its third consecutive prime-time ratings win in adults 18-49 and seventh victorious season in eight years. In its thirteenth season, Law & Order marks its 300th episode, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit passes the 100-episode milestone. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy debuts on Bravo and becomes a smash hit.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS MILESTONES
1909: Carl Laemmle forms what will soon be known as the Independent Moving Pictures Company of America (IMP).
1912: IMP merges with five other film companies to create Universal Film Manufacturing Company, encompassing all facets of movie production, distribution, and exhibition.
1915: Universal City officially opens. Thomas Edison, founder of GE, dedicates Universal’s state-of-the-art electric studio.
1924: Dr. Jules Stein and William R. Goodheart, Jr. form the Music Corporation of America (MCA), representing music’s biggest stars of the day.
1928: Universal opens its first “talking picture,” Melody of Love.
1930: All Quiet on the Western Front wins Academy Award for Best Picture.
1931: Dracula and Frankenstein are released, beginning Universal’s leadership in horror genre.
1936: Lew Wasserman, age 22, joins MCA in Cleveland.
1938: Devised by Lew Wasserman, MCA radio show Kay Kyser and His Kollege of Musical Knowledge, debuts on NBC Radio.
1946: Lew Wasserman appointed President of MCA.
1948: Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet earns Academy Award for Best Picture.
1950: Lew Wasserman’s negotiation of percentage deal between Universal and Jimmy Stewart on Winchester ’73 revolutionizes film industry.
1951: Universal is acquired by Decca Records.
1953: Premiere of General Electric Theater. A year later, Ronald Reagan becomes host.
1958: MCA buys Paramount Studios’ pre-1948 sound film library in richest TV syndication deal to date.
1961: Spartacus spears four Academy Awards.
1962: MCA purchases Decca Records, and with it, Universal Pictures.
1963: Gregory Peck receives Best Actor Oscar for To Kill a Mockingbird.
1964: Universal Studios Tour opens for business. MCA acquires Alfred Hitchcock’s Shamley Productions, including rights to Psycho and all his television work.
1974: The Sting captures seven Academy Awards, among them Best Picture.
1978: The Deer Hunter brings home four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
1980: MCA Home Entertainment Group founded, creating catalog video distribution division.
1983: E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial takes over domestic and international box office.
1985: Out of Africa honored with Best Picture Oscar.
1990: Universal Studios Florida opens in Orlando.
1991: Electronics giant Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. purchases MCA.
1993: Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List wins Academy Award for Best Picture. Universal CityWalk opens.
1995: Joseph Seagram Company, Ltd. buys 80 percent interest in MCA. Ron Meyer appointed president and COO, succeeding Sidney Sheinberg.
1996: MCA, Inc. renamed Universal Studios, Inc.
1997: TV’s most successful franchise, Law & Order, wins Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.
1999: Islands of Adventure, the Portofino Resort, and Universal CityWalk open in Orlando, Florida.
2000: Vivendi, Canal+, and parent Seagram Company form strategic business combination, creating Vivendi Universal.
2001: Universal Studios Japan stages grand opening and shatters attendance records worldwide. Universal gains USA Network assets including USA Films, later renamed Focus Features.
2003: Universal becomes first studio with five summer releases breaking $100 million mark.