NBC

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Background

The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American English-language commercial terrestrial radio and television network owned by NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, with additional major offices near Los Angeles (at 10 Universal City Plaza) and Chicago (at the NBC Tower). NBC is one of the Big Three television networks, and is sometimes referred to as the "Peacock Network", in reference to its stylized peacock logo, introduced in 1956 to promote the company's innovations in early colour broadcasting; it became the network's official emblem in 1979.

Founded in 1926 by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), NBC is the oldest major broadcast network in the United States. At that time, the parent company of RCA was General Electric (GE). In 1932, GE was forced to sell RCA and NBC as a result of antitrust charges. In 1952, NBC Films (also known as "NBC Enterprises, Inc.", who would later reform in late 1970s) was founded. It was the production/distribution arm of the NBC Television Network for NBC off-network programs originally formed in 1952. In 1973, NBC later spun-off NBC Films and later sold it including the library to National Telefilm Associates because it was against the FCC regulations for a television network to distribute its programs under its own name. As of now, most of the library is currently handled by Paramount, through CBS Media Ventures and Spelling Television, except several episodes of You Bet Your Life by Buddy Hackett and non-public domain episodes by Groucho Marx are retained by NBCUniversal. Many others have fallen in the public domain.

In 1986, control of NBC passed back to General Electric (GE) through its $6.4 billion purchase of RCA. GE immediately began to liquidate RCA's various divisions, but retained NBC. After the acquisition by GE, Bob Wright became chief executive officer of NBC; he would remain in that position until his retirement in 2007, when he was succeeded by Jeff Zucker. In 2004, French media company Vivendi merged its entertainment assets with GE, forming NBC Universal. Comcast purchased a controlling interest in the company in 2011, and acquired General Electric's remaining stake in 2013. Following the Comcast merger, Zucker left NBCUniversal and was replaced as CEO by Comcast executive Steve Burke.

NBC has thirteen owned-and-operated stations and nearly 200 affiliates throughout the United States and its territories, some of which are also available in Canada and/or Mexico via pay-television providers or in border areas over-the-air.

The international rights to NBC's pre-2004 in-house television library (except programs that were produced by Revue Studios/Universal Television or its successors that the network ordered prior to the NBCU merger) are currently held by MGM Television on behalf of NBCUniversal while NBCU (through NBCUniversal Television Distribution) holds the domestic distribution rights to both the (post-1973 library) NBC in-house catalogue and shows produced by Universal Television that the network ordered prior to the NBCU merger.

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1st ID (1943-1946)


Visuals: Just the letters "N", "B" and "C" in a vatical position on a microphone, surrounded by bolts of lightning on a black background. The logo sometimes fades into a radio tower pulsing electricity similar to the RKO Pictures logo and back to the logo again.

Trivia: The lightning bolts on the left side were meant for the radio network, and the waves on the right side were meant for the television network.

Technique: Cel animation.

Audio: An announcer says "This is NBC, the National Broadcasting Company", followed by the chime notes "G", "E", and "C" with an orchestral score that sounds like electrical buzzing in the background.

Availability: This was seen on the 1945 short documentary Tomorrow Television, but it may appear on kinescopes of the period.

2nd ID (1946-1947)


Visuals: Over a dark background is "NBC" in an outlined circle.

Technique: A printed graphic filmed by a cameraman.

Audio: Just an announcer saying "This is the National Broadcasting Company."

Availability: Unknown. [Examples?]

3rd ID (1949-1952)

Visuals: There are the words "NBC" surrounded by a square zoom up on a gray background. The letters light up one by one in sync with the NBC chimes.

Variant: A digitally colorized version is seen on Red Skelton's Christmas Classics. The background remains gray, the inside of the box is red and the "NBC" text and the outline of the box is silver.

Technique: Camera-controlled animation.

Audio: An announcer saying "NBC Television.", followed by the famous "NBC chimes" as the letters light up.

4th ID (1952-1966?)

Visuals: Over a gray background is "NBC" in large, black, 3D block letters. As the chimes play, the letters change to white, one-by-one.

Variants:

  • Most copies of this logo have a disclaimer in white under the letters: "THIS PROGRAM WAS REPRODUCED BY THE KINEPHOTO PROCESS." The "NBC" letters are shifted upwards to make room for the disclaimer.
  • One version does not have the letters light up. This was used on early episodes of Today.
  • Occasionally, a promotional slide for a program replaces the animation; the chimes remain.
  • When The Beatles' black-and-white movie A Hard Day's Night premiered on NBC in 1967, the network's "In Living Color" peacock intro was replaced with a "lively black and white" animated penguin. The penguin pulls out a set of animated Beatles from its chest, who briefly play their music before they run away from a mob of fans.

Technique: 2D animation.

Audio: Same as the last logo, minus the announcer.

Availability: Seen on period kinescopes. It is included on Mr. Wizard Studios' DVD and YouTube releases of Watch Mr. Wizard. This was seen on two NBC programs aired during Buzzr's 2021 "Lost & Found" marathon: one pilot of the unsold 1966 show It Had to Be You and a 1955 episode of Make the Connection. The latest known use of this was on the two known pilots of It Had to Be You, which were apparently taped on November 7, 1966.

5th ID (December 17, 1953-1956)

Visuals: There is a xylophone with three keys. A mallet then hits all 3 keys, which makes the letters "NBC" appear on them.

Technique: 2D animation.

Audio: Same as the last logo.

6th ID (1967)


Visuals: Over a greenish background is multiple 1-digit numbers in white cover up the screen. We then see the NBC "Snake" logo made up in these numbers. We keep zooming out until the NBC logo can be entirely seen & is at the center of the screen. After that, the NBC logo turns white. We then see the text "IT ALL ADDS UP ON NBC" entirely made of dots appear.

Technique: 2D animation.

Audio: At first, there is typing noises. Then we hear people making beeping noises for the rest of the logo.

7th ID (May 23-June 12, 1970)

Visuals: On a white background, a dark purple peacock with an orange beak and neck walks in from the right. The peacock's feathers fan out, starting from the right. The peacock looks around. The company name does not appear. The color scheme of the peacock's feathers are also different, with red hues being more prominent and varied pastel colors on the other feathers.

Technique: Stop-motion paper cutout animation done at Yellow Ball Workshop, a children's filmmaking workshop based in Lexington, Massachusetts. This logo was likely filmed by studio founder and instructor Yvonne Andersen, while the animation was done by Jean Falcone (age 6). Three more logos were produced at the same workshop, animated by Carol Sones (age 16), Kathy Ahern (age 16), and Deirdre Cowden (age 15) respectively. Out of the 4 versions of this logo, only Jean's version is known to have actually aired on TV.

Audio: Same as the short version of the 1962 NBC color ID. The reel variant has the music being off-sync.

Availability: This was a special network ID created for The New Communicators, two specials where Peter Fonda profiled young filmmakers. It was resurfaced on a 16mm reel named Yellow Ball All Stars which can be viewed here.

8th ID (Late 1975-1976)


Visuals: Two vertical shining lights, one red (left) and the other blue (right) slide the opposite direction, forming the NBC logo. The lights dim out once the logo is formed.

Technique: Slit-scan effects.

Audio: An orchestrated 4-note fanfare, featuring the NBC chimes and with the last note drawn out.

9th ID (January 1, 1976-1977)

Visuals: There is a white background, which zooms out, revealing an abstract "N" on a black background. The text "Dolphin Productions/New York" in white fades in on the bottom of the screen. The left section of the "N" fills with red, and the right section fills with blue, becoming the NBC logo of the time. The text on the bottom of the screen fades to "NBC".

Variant: A still version exists.

Technique: Scanimate animation by Dolphin Productions in New York; the footage here was taken from a watermarked Dolphin demo reel, which explains the "Dolphin Productions/New York" at the bottom of the screen at one part.

Audio: A loud jazzy fanfare with congas. The still version has no music and it has a voiceover.

Availability: This was seen as a network ID starting on January 1, 1976.

Legacy: This ID holds the distinction as the first completely computer-animated national television network ID.

10th ID (1976, 1977-1978)

Visuals: On a black background, there is a closeup of a blue, rotating 3D glassy abstract "N", which then zooms out to show the full block. The "N" shines all throughout the logo, with overlays of the animation rippling out.

Variants:

  • For NBC's 1977-78 season promo, three different stacked overlays were used:
    • The beginning of the promo uses an "NBC 77" overlay, which then zooms (alongside the N) into the screen.
    • This is shortly followed by a yellow-tinted "NBC 78" overlay, in which the animation freezes and zooms in when the N is front-facing.
    • The end of the promo has the yellow-tinted N animation zoom out and freeze, with a "A BIG YEAR! 78" overlay flashing when the N freezes.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: A majestic orchestrated fanfare.

Audio Variant: The 50th anniversary variant uses various beeping sounds.

Availability: First appeared (as the 50th Anniversary variant) on the "NBC: The First 50 Years" special.