NBC News to Expand Branded Content

By Chris Ariens 

You’ve no doubt heard of the term branded or sponsored content, where media companies: news networks, publishers, digital entities, etc., earn revenue for coverage that is geared toward a particular brand or product.

This morning, NBC News is diving deeper into the space as News president Deborah Turness announced that Jen Brown has been named the first SVP of Brand Partnerships for NBC News. The “Today” show has already been dabbling in sponsored content with brands like Dove and American Express. Brown played a role in these partnerships as head of TODAY.com.

Brown will work with NBC News Advertising sales “to develop the new, innovative approaches that our clients now expect,” Turness writes in a note to staff, obtained by TVNewser. MSNBC president Phil Griffin has also appointed a head of brand partnerships for that NBCU network.

The FCC doesn’t have a policy against such partnerships. The guidelines stipulate:

Federal law and FCC rules require that employees of broadcast stations, program producers, program suppliers and others who, in exchange for airing material, have accepted or agreed to receive payments, services or other valuable consideration must disclose this fact.

It’s not clear if this will extend to the more traditional news programs like “Nightly News” and “Meet the Press.” And in a way, this is a return to the early days of TV news. In the early 1950s, NBC News produced the Camel News Caravan.

NBC News will announce a new head of Today.com soon, we hear.


I am thrilled to announce the promotion of Jen Brown to Senior Vice President of Brand Partnerships for NBC News.

In this newly created role, she will build on the success we have seen through our partnerships with brands like Dove, American Express and Voya. Jen will work with a small team, including Maia Samuel and Steve Veres, to expand our franchises, themed series and special projects across all platforms, and will work closely with Ad Sales to develop the new, innovative approaches that our clients now expect.

Jen’s creativity, editorial knowledge and digital experience make her uniquely qualified to take on this new challenge.

Under her leadership, the TODAY.com site has seen remarkable social and mobile growth. In this last year, Jen has led TODAY.com to record highs for both audience and revenue. And her leadership has created a culture of innovation, experimentation and teamwork at TODAY.com – all qualities that will be paramount to the success of this new role that spans the division.

Jen will continue to work closely with the senior editors of TODAY.com while we finalize plans for her replacement. Look for an announcement soon.

Please join me in congratulating her and wishing her luck as a pioneer in this exciting new venture.