Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Coverage By NBC & CBS – Still Horrible


Millions tuned in to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade coverage by NBC and CBS, but which one did a better job covering it. I watched both and compared the broadcasts.

Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade Coverage NBC CBS tv review

Ah, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast is about to commence. Both NBC and CBS are going to cover it with a three-hour morning broadcast. Both of them are consistently lame – and they never seem to improve year to year.

Maybe because it’s not primetime that the coverage of the Thanksgiving Day Parade doesn’t get held to higher standards. When folks complain about the Oscars or Miss America, those in charge hear about it and try to make improvements to the shows. They usually never work, but they at least try.

Or it could be that most people turn this thing on and use it as background while they prepare for the holiday. While they prepare for all the cooking for the day, they can plop the kids down in front of this parade to keep them out of their hair.

Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018 tv coverage broadcast NBCOr it could very well be that because the parade has earned that exulted title of being ‘a tradition’, the broadcast gets a pass every year and it’s just accepted that this is what it is and we should watch it because it’s ‘tradition’.

There are complaints galore about the parade coverage! Terrible lip syncing. non-stop musical performances, promoting the network shows, barely showing the floats and balloons. You can guarantee these criticisms are being shouted out. Take a glance at social media during the parade and it lights up with them – but it appears to fall on deaf ears.

Perhaps, if the complaints were louder someone at the networks would take them into consideration and think, ‘Maybe we should change some things about the broadcast and listen to what viewers are saying’.

Well, it didn’t happen again.

This year I thought I would again compare CBS and NBC’s parade coverage.

Last year I determined that CBS’s coverage was the better of the two. My assumption is – for those that tune into this show they want to watch a parade marching down the street in New York City. Therefore, for a purer ‘parade broadcast’ CBS was the better of the two.

NBC Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade Broadcast 2018As you should know by now, CBS isn’t associated with Macy’s. NBC has the sweet Macy’s deal so it can brag it’s ‘the official’ parade network. They’re allowed to plaster the Macy’s name all over the place and Macy’s will orchestra things for the NBC cameras.

CBS has to wing its coverage. It has to do its best to pull together a show with the streaming parade marching down the street as best it can. They’re not going to get any cooperation from Macy’s.

This time I thought I would try to keep a tally of all the musical performances that seem to fill up the bulk of the broadcasts (much more so on NBC, where the actual parade comes in a distant second)

Let’s cut the ribbon and start marching! 


NBC – The opening to NBC’s parade coverage is an extremely cheesy singing performance – it’s a great indicator of what kind of show they’re going to broadcast this morning.

Some kid starts singing a song and giving a Broadway-type of dance number running from place to place. “Don’t Rain On My Parade” or something. This stuff is so gaudy. This would already get me to change the channel.

Samantha Guthrie and Hoda Kotb are our hosts, and of course Al Roker is along with them. Matt Lauer is no longer present and he doesn’t get mentioned. He’s probably watching at home drinking Jack Daniels moaning about how things turned out for him.

Al Roker NBC Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018Roker reports from the start of the parade at Central Park West and 77th Street, where Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette cuts the ribbon to start this thing up.

While the parade has just begun and will be marching down the city street we won’t be seeing much of it for a long time. NBC is once again set up in front of Macy’s on 34th Street, so it’ll be awhile before anything hits their cameras. But we do know the parade has begun to march – just not for NBC viewers.

They immediately start their promoting of network shows by having ‘Stars of NBC’ giving a Thanksgiving greeting to viewers and sharing their Thanksgiving memories as they go in and out from commercials. NBC wants viewers to be made aware of every single show they have on the air.

CBS – Kevin Frazier and Keltie Knight are back this year as the hosts. Weatherman Lonnie Quinn is back as well. He talks to them from Columbus Circle giving the lowdown of the weather conditions. It turns out this this will be one of the coldest Thanksgivings in decades and the wind is going to force the balloons close to the ground. What a bummer.

We quickly jump into a performance from the cast of the Broadway musical Head Over Heels. Once again, it’s a recorded performance, so it’s filmed in the theater and not done ‘live’ like NBC does.

I don’t understand how this parade got so associated with promoting Broadway shows and featuring performances. Both CBS and NBC fill the morning with these. If they must showcase them, I think CBS’s decision of having them pre-recorded is much better. For one, they don’t have to deal with the embarrassing live lip-sync awkwardness that NBC goes through every year with theirs.

Pre-recorded performances also give a much better idea to viewers of what they’ll experience if they decide to goto one of these shows. Unlike NBC where the casts basically restage numbers in the middle of the street in front of the Macy’s storefront. Not one of the musical numbers I’ve seen on NBC ever piqued my interest in the show it was from.


Macys Thanksgiving Parade Al Roker motorcycle 2018
Al Roker on his ‘Roker-Cycle’

NBCRoker explains to viewers that they have a new perspective to watch the parade from. It’s basically Roker sitting in a seat on a motorcycle. Somehow I suspect this won’t enrich the viewing experience for television viewers.

We get a performance from the cast of My Fair Lady.

CBSStill waiting for the parade. It started, but it’s not close enough to their cameras to start filming it yet. So, you know what that means! A musical performance by the cast of Dear Evan Hanson.

We see a faraway shot of the parade coming down the street as we goto a commercial.

Here’s a suggestion for CBS. Why not have another set of cameras further up the street? The CBS hosts actually have a very nice spot overlooking 6th Avenue and their set is three floors high. But it’s basically a ‘one and done’ filming of the parade from that single spot.

Macys Thanksgiving Parade 2018 CBS broadcast empty streetHow about nixing the musical numbers while waiting for the parade to reach you, and have a second set of cameras further up the street able to film the parade earlier? You can film the same floats and balloons twice! Cut back and forth between the two setups. Coordinate that everything in the parade gets airtime and goes out to viewers live, rather than having to play recorded parts of the parade towards the end of the broadcast.

I know they would never do that.

I don’t think you’d hear too many complaints if the musical numbers got replaced by added parade coverage. Do some overhead shots if you have to. Even far away handheld cameras would be welcomed over the musical performances. Jam this broadcast with just marching and waving!


NBC: As I suspected this new motorcycle they have Roker on is not helping with the parade watching experience. Unless you get jazzed at seeing Roker high five folks in the crowd.

NBC Macys Parade Prom Musical same sex kiss 2018A performance by the cast of The Prom. This number receives a lot of attention for NBC with it ending with a same sex kiss by the two female dancers. Some folks applaud it, while others call it inappropriate. It will probably be the most memorable moment from the telecast – other than the lip-syncing foul ups.

CBS: We’re still waiting for that blasted parade! That means, more killing time. So here’s a number from King Kong. This is the best musical number of the morning. The Kong puppet is pretty remarkable. Even if you don’t like the song, that big puppet is impressive. This is where having these performances pre-recorded is a real asset. It’s doubtful that NBC would have been able to pull this Kong number off live on the street.

Not every Broadway show can be easily translated to play in the city street. Some of them actually look so awkward I bet it turns off some people from going to see it.

A good way to compare the parade broadcasts is – on CBS it’s coverage of a parade marching down the street in New York City. On NBC – it’s watching a parade making frequent stops to do choreographed numbers in front of an overly decorated storefront.

As I’ve said many times before, I don’t like parades, but between those two choices, I’d rather see the more authentic parade experience. NBC promotes some kind of Youtube 360 degree Parade Experience app you can watch the parade on. I wonder how many people try that out. It’s gotta be a better alternative to the actual television broadcast.

For out of towners who come to visit New York thinking it’s going to look like how NBC shows it, they’ll be in for a shock.


NBC – Coming back and that parade is still a long ways away. So, here’s a performance from Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Plus, more NBC stars talking about their Thanksgiving memories. It’s too bad NBC doesn’t get to include the days and times all their shows are on. Just go completely ‘TV Guide’ with these promos and include their entire schedule on the bottom of the screen.

CBS – It is now 9:35AM – Back to Lonnie with a report about the winds, whether the balloons will fly or not and he explains to us about the ‘Bernoulli Effect’ in the city cross streets. We spot the Pillsbury Dough Boy balloon flying REALLY low. This year the balloons were essentially parade floats. I mean, they were barely off the ground. Those folks in the buildings watching the parade really got screwed. They ended up seeing just the top of the balloons.


CBS Thanksgiving Day Parade Paw Patrol balloon 2018NBC – Kelly Clarkson performs – and of course a continuing chorus line of those NBC star promos. We know the parade started. That Roker-Cycle is not coming in too handy providing parade coverage to viewers. Hope they didn’t spend too much on it.

CBS – Over at CBS viewers had to wait a little more than half an hour for the parade to arrive at CBS’s station. We get that famed Tom the Turkey float and things start to roll in. BUT Joe Morton and Brandon Micheal Hall from the CBS show God Friended Me are now sitting with Kevin and Keltie.

So now, they have to juggle between them and shots of the parade. It’s too bad they can’t just interview the guests from CBS shows BEFORE the parade comes by them!

They run through the same ‘copy and paste’ interviews everyone will be doing. “What do you think about the parade? How are you going to spend your holiday? Tell us about your show? Sounds great! Happy Thanksgiving!”

The Paw Patrol balloon floats past during the interview with Morton talking. It’s almost comical to see this giant balloon floating in the background as Morton keeps talking unbothered by it. Finally Kevin and Keltie break in, interrupt Morton and start reading their copy about the balloon.


Macys Thanksgiving Parade Tina Fey NBC 2018
Tina Fey, Samantha Guthrie and Hoda Kotb

NBC – We see a high angle shot of the parade on sixth avenue, which Roker interviews some clowns marching down. Tina Fey is sitting with Savannah and Hoda to help introduce – yes another musical number. This time it’s a song and dance from the Broadway musical Mean Girls. Fey adapted the show.

Little Cloud balloon. A new balloon in the parade. I have no idea what this thing is supposed to be. I guess just a cute cloud. The Cranberry Cooperative float with the band Sugarland onboard is close behind.

CBS – Once again CBS has a very high overhead camera that gets some impressive shots of the balloons in the streets. I’m a fan of it. It gives viewers a sense of the scale of the city and these balloons. NBC makes the parade feel like some gaudy sideshow. How NBC, the ‘official’ Macy’s Parade network doesn’t have one of these high cameras boggles my mind. I guess, they think they’re making up for it with all their musical acts.

So, we get the Pillsbury Dough Boy, a repetitive report from Lonnie about the cold and wind (the guy gets more screen time than some of the parade floats!), The Grants Pass marching band from Oregon is going past. Kevin tells us they collected money for eighteen months to get to the parade. Too bad they wasted so much time with Lonnie and they couldn’t have given them more airtime before going to a commercial.

That was a pretty straight forward parade segment – other than Lonnie babbling on and on about the weather.


NBC – The Rockettes perform. This is the best performance that NBC shows out of their entire broadcast. Everyone loves watching them do those perfectly timed kicks with their gorgeous legs. This is great promotion for their show at Radio City Music Hall. Everyone who visits NY feels like it’s a ‘Must See’ thing to see and it’s all thanks to these ladies.

CBS Thanksgiving Day Parade sponsor ad 2018 Kevin KeltieCBS – Kevin and Keltie do a strange ad for Ancestry DNA. They try to incorporate it in by saying, The holidays are all about spending time with family. Over the holidays think about how you’re all connected…” that’s where Ancestry DNA comes in. “It would make a great gift! Only $49!” Very odd way to work in that sponsor.

While they do that, a giant balloon floats pass without a mention. But no worries Kevin says, “We’re going to show you everything!”


NBC – an hour into their broadcast and finally that Tom the Turkey float arrives with Pilgrims waving on it. For those viewers who tuned in late and were worried they would miss the parade they’re probably breathing a sigh of relief. They also get to see Ohio Marching Band play a bit and do their moves.

For all the pomp and circumstance with NBC’s coverage, the viewing experience of this parade doesn’t look very impressive. Since they do this in front of Macy’s the angles and way they film it really comes off looking very cramped and claustrophobic. It’s just the way the buildings are set up around 34th Street, it’s not a convenient way to showcase the scale of this stuff.

Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade Paw Patrol balloon NBC 2018The Paw Patrol balloon arrives and it looks like a tight fit between the buildings for him. Any minute I expect it get snagged on something. Because of their setup viewers only get relative closeups of the balloon, since the NBC cameras can’t pull back anywhere.

Another annoying thing NBC does is have some spotlight whizzing around all over the balloon. They really want to make viewers eyes overload with as many decorations and bells and whistles as they can come up stick on the screen.

Compared to CBS’s high cameras on 6th Avenue getting wide shots of the long stretching street, the parade on NBC doesn’t look as huge. It’s like a parade you’d see at Disneyland, not the greatest, biggest parade of the year.

Difference NBC CBS Thanksgiving Macys Parade Coverage

THE MOST DISAPPOINTING Faux Pas NBC makes is as they’re going to commercial here. It momentarily looks like a short segment of how preparations for the parade are made and how they transport all the floats to the starting point. THIS COULD BE INTERESTING! Viewers getting some insight in how the parade is put together. BUT this turns into a blatant promo for Ram Trucks. What a waste!

CBS – They’re interviewing Erich Bergen from CBS’s Madam Secretary. Same interview routine. Everyone’s Favorite Bake Shop, a float by Entemanns rolls past while Bergen is talking. Luckily he references it and that allows them to mention it briefly.  The Fred Astaire Dance Studio arrives and squeezes itself in between Bergen’s interview.


NBC – Clearly they stopped the parade and had the next float that Sugarland is standing on were waiting to perform. The Pillsbury balloon. Carly Pearce sings. The Oregon Marching Band and the Wimply Kid balloon.

Everyone talks about the awful lip-syncing performance on display. At this point I would think that’s just a given. Viewers should know they’re going to see that and it can usually provide some unintentional entertainment to watch.

Sugarland Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade 2018 background dancers NBCI however, am more drawn to the background performers on these floats. They’re clearly not all professional dancers and are not doing choreographed moves in any way! They’re participation is usually waving their arms back and forth out of rhythm to the music and just waving to the crowd. It’s quite embarrassing. It’s especially noticeable after seeing the well timed Rockettes perform. You know these singers would never bring these people with them on tour.

CBS – Ronald McDonald balloon is just going past as they come back from the commercial. The Fun House float sponsored by Crazy Glue. Singer Rita Ora is waving away on it. She’s going to have that notorious lip-syncing mishap on NBC later on. Short segment, but pretty parade focused.


NBC – Anika Noni Rose and the Muppets of Sesame Street sing. Like all the floats on NBC they’re playing for the set of cameras across the street from Macy’s. The left side of the floats will never been seen by viewers. For all they know they just built one side of the float. Quite a contrast to CBS that can circle around the things and show them off more.

That red jet balloon. Brynn Cartelli sings. That little cloud balloon pulls up.

Macys Thanksgiving Parade CBS Sela Ward Charlie Brown balloon
Sela Ward, Kevin Frazier, Keltie Knight and the Charlie Brown balloon in the background

CBS – An hour and ten minutes into the broadcast. The Charlie Brown float is on the scene. Sela Ward is sitting with them. She appears on the CBS show FBI. Only those affiliated with CBS are allowed to sit with Kevin and Keltie today.

I love Sela and I like to see her, but it gets pretty embarrassing how CBS tries to promote its shows with the parade. Their MO appears to be – just grab anyone on the network who’s in New York during the holiday and have them do some quick promotion.

Wouldn’t it be a radical idea if they talked with one of the balloon designers, a parade historian, a float artist! Perhaps they could provide some interesting insight into the parade, rather than an actor talk about their show and how excited they are to be at the parade.

Anyway, Sela gets the usual type of interview and hits all her marks. I like how she mentions Alabama and “Roll Tide”. Back it Lonnie talking excitedly about the Dragon Ballz balloon almost getting knocked down by the wind.


NBC – The Build-A-Bear float has stopped as it waits for John Legend to sing. His background performers weave back and forth indiscriminately and wave to the crowd. He’s got an NBC special coming up!

The Toothless Dragon balloon, or whatever he’s called. The handlers are practically dragging him on the ground! The Virginia Marching Band. It looks like they’re about to crash into each other with such a small space to perform in.

That Entemann’s float. I think Sara Evans was on this thing last year. Pentatonix doing a bit of singing on it.

CBS – Pikachu balloon has arrived. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles float. The singing duo Jack & Jack onboard. Maybe it’s me but these revamped turtles look odd. Goku balloon quickly following them. Another CBS segment that was pure parade.


NBC – The Fred Astaire Dance Studio do their moves. All the kids in the country are asking, “Who’s Fred Astaire?”. Bazzi sings. Ronald McDonald in his shoe car and his big balloon. It’s funny to me how this pitchman still gets so much attention and is not ostracized with all the talk about how fast food is so unhealthy, but somehow he endures. It’s too bad they don’t bring back Grimace and the Hamburglar.

Rita Ora lip sync mishap Macys Thanksgiving Parade 2018One of the most notorious performances that everyone will watch over and over again Rita Ora’s lip-synching mishap. She’s completely off and the cameras try to help her out by cutting to terrible background dancers and wide shots. Everyone still noticed.

Macy’s issued a statement saying it was due to technical difficulties and not Rita’s fault. She said all her shows are 100% live. It’s a necessity that all artists lip sync during the parade since these floats don’t have the necessary sound equipment. That’s understandable.

I guess the exposure it gives these artists and the honoring of getting to participate in the parade outweighs all the cons. Standing in the cold and doing hackyned lip synching is worth the tradeoff to them.

The NY Police Department pulls up just as we goto commercial. We’ll never know if they did lip synching.

CBS – The Trolls balloon. Macy’s Great American Marching Band on their heels. I notice Kevin drops the word ‘Macy’s’ when introducing them, but the text has their full name. Maybe CBS has a legal issue and aren’t allowed to utter the word ‘Macy’s’, but it’s ok for viewers to read it.

Joe Regalbuto from Murphy Brown is ready to jump through the parade interview duties. He does. You can watch Murphy Brown right here on CBS!


NBC – An hour and forty minutes in Roker has arrived at Macy’s thanks to that motorcycle. The only thing it helped was moving him from the start of the parade route to the end of it.

He does an embarrassing bit of bouncing around between a giant bowling ball and pins. Poor guy. This is how they decide to use the 64-year-old weatherman, as a buffoon. No wonder he’s willing to show up in Sharknado movies. The guy is willing to make an ass out of himself.

Thanksgiving Parade bowling ball pins Al Roker float 2018

This is a perfect metaphor of NBC’s parade coverage. Rather than just let the parade flow naturally and allow viewers to enjoy watching it unfold (on CBS they just show these pins rolling along and amazingly I thought they looked neat) – NBC has to pour this canned corniness over it in an attempt to make it….better I guess.

Ashley TisDale performs. The Charlie Brown balloon. The CNS Marching Band perform. The Big Apple Circus arrives. It’s just a bunch of clowns waving.

CBS – The Spongebob Balloon. Lonnie sitting with parade goers talking about the weather again. Harvest in the Valley float. Big  Jolly Green Giant and singer Carly Pearce riding along. Dino the Dinosaur balloon the official mascot of Sinclair Oil. I’m not sure many kids know who this is. I bet most of them just think it’s just anonymous dinosaur balloon.

EBates spokesperson Erika Vetrini does a four-minute segment about how it can make our holiday shopping super simple. Blatant commercial for a sponsor. The most aggravating thing about it is they cut to this informercial right when the Red Power Ranger balloon was coming up. They couldn’t air this in the first half hour? They have to do this right in the middle of the parade?


Bad Bunny Macys Thanksgiving Parade 2018 singingNBC – On the Sour Patch float with Bad Bunny singing. His background performers mainly do a ‘raising the roof’ move. The Park Vista High School Band. The big finale is a girl jumping out of a big “Number One” and throwing streamers. Kind of an anti-climactic ending.

Pikachu balloon. That Ninja Turtles float with Jack & Jack singing.

Does anyone know – is it a requirement that every one of these floats has a singer onboard?

The Goku balloon. A cheerleader float with Mackenzie Ziegler and Johnny Orlando singing.

CBS – Diary of A Wimpy Kid balloon. For eagle-eyed viewers you’ll notice CBS is now airing earlier parade segments they missed with commercials. Unlike NBC, the parade isn’t going to stop for the CBS cameras. You’ll know which ones when you just hear Kevin and Keltie talking over the parade and they no longer use the wide shot of them sitting and seeing the parade in the background.

Sesame Street float. The Elf On The Shelf balloon – and he’s live!


We’ve reached the two-hour mark.

NBC – A performance by cheerleaders. The Shimmer and Shine float with a performance by Ally Brooke. The Trolls balloon. Macy’s Great American Marching Band. Tegan Marie sings.

Olaf balloon Macys Thanksgiving Parade 2018

CBS – We’re getting into pre-recorded’ territory now. The Woodland High School Marching Band. They stop right beside CBS and do a bit of a song, that we’re allowed to “listen for a second” of.

Everytime something stops by their set Keltie’s favorite remark is, “It’s like they stopped just for us!”

Jet the Plane balloon. Universal Playground float with Brynn Cartelli. Kevin and Keltie don’t have much to say about the floats. Keller Marching Band gets a quick shot before going to commercial.


NBC – Ella Mai sings. River City Marching Band perform. The Spongebob balloon. The Barenaked Ladies sing.

CBS – Now we’re going to be going back and forth between the live parade and catching up with the stuff CBS missed earlier and are replaying for us. Olaf balloon is live. Kevin says it’s the first balloon to glisten. I don’t see it. Maybe you have to see it in person to get the full effect.

Discover Adventure float with John Legend (recorded). Some nutty looking Christmas Elves balloons. They look really strange to me.


NBC – That dinosaur balloon is led by a bunch of rolling baby dinosaurs in eggs. Kane Brown sings. The Red Power Ranger balloon. The Homewood Marching Band perform.

Grinch balloon Macys Thanksgiving Parade 2018 CBSCBS – They show the Grinch balloon almost crashing to the ground thanks to the wind. Lafayette High School Marching Band is standing next to the CBS station. CBS has a problem when the parade stops and there’s nothing to show viewers. They don’t want to spend the time watching the band try to warm their hands so they just goto a commercial.

Toothless Dragon balloon wobbling along (recorded earlier). Frozen Fall Fun float with hockey players on it. This was way back before Ronald McDonald went past.

The Grinch balloon arrives Live. I guess this Grinch is meant to be the new Grinch in the movie. Kevin gives us the details about how Benedict Cumberbatch does the voice. Boris Karloff and Dr. Seuss do not get any mention.

The Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree float follows the Grinch. Keltie and Kevin say the word ‘Macy’s’ so maybe they are allowed to speak it.


NBC – We’re at the two-and-a-half hour mark on NBC.

The Elf On A Shelf float and balloon. It’s funny how this guy has become so popular. I remember my Mom had one of these things when I was little. Back then we just thought of him as decoration.

Leona Lewis sings on some duck float. Woodland Marching Band perform. The Aflac Duck rolls through. The Peanuts float.

CBS Thanksgiving Day Parade Coverage broadcast review 2018
CBS lowers their camera angle as the parade has passed but they continue to keep up the illusion – they don’t want viewers see the empty street, it doesn’t look very festive

CBS – Well as viewers can see from the low angle of the camera and how they’re not showing the street anymore, the parade has all gone past so it’s all rewinding the tape and filler for Kevin and Keltie now.

CBS tries not make us not think about that, it would spoil the illusion. I’m not sure if that would be considered ‘fake news’.

That’s one good thing CBS can do – they can rearrange the parade now in any order they want for viewers and cut out any boring stuff to use extra time for network promotion if they want to.

Those cool bowling ball and pins….I don’t think you’d classify them as a float, and they’re not balloons. I don’t know what you’d call them, but they’re pretty neat. Unlike NBC, CBS allows us to enjoy them just rolling down the street and not have the hosts bump into them.

A segment from with Taniya Nayak with tips of how to make your home warm and friendly for guests. This is the worst time wasters with this broadcast. I imagine they need to give these sponsors some primo airtime, but it’s such an incredible intrusion for those wanting to watch a parade. I’d recommend people just dvr the parade now and come in late for it so they can zip through this stuff. Back in the old days viewers didn’t have that luxury. I bet plenty of people are doing that with this broadcast.


NBC – The Elf On A Shelf float and balloon. It’s funny how this guy has become so popular. I remember my Mom had one of these things when I was little. Back then we just thought of him as decoration.

Leona Lewis sings on some duck float. Woodland Marching Band perform. The Aflac Duck rolls through. The Peanuts float.

CBS – Back with another time killer promoting the football game being broadcast later on CBS. Sour Patch Kids float with Bad Bunny standing on it. It’s been so long since we’ve seen parade footage the momentum is kind of dead now. Most of the floats they show appear to consist of having young pop stars on them who I never heard of it waving.


NBC – The Keller High School Band. The Olaf balloon. I still don’t see what they’re talking about him glittering. Martina McBride sings The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I hear this version a lot on the radio during December.

Those weird little elf balloons. I don’t see them becoming classic Christmas characters.

Macys Thanksgiving Parade Santa Claus 2018

CBS – Finally, viewers get treated to seeing that Red Power Ranger balloon. A cute little Peanuts float. Kevin and Keltie give a little history about Charlie Brown. Oh, there’s another singer I know – Diana Ross.

We’re at the 2-hour-and-50 minute mark and very abruptly Santa Claus shows up. CBS doesn’t really have much of a build up to him. They didn’t even give a little tease for the kiddies saying he’s coming up soon or anything. That’s who all the kids want to still see nowadays right?

NBC – At NBC the time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The Lafayette Marching Band performs. The Nutcracker balloon (we didn’t see this one over at CBS). Diana Ross fights with long blowing hair and ‘sings’. The Supremes are definitely not her backup dancers!

The Grinch balloon. The Macy’s Singing Christmas Tree perform.

CBS – Finally, viewers get treated to seeing that Red Power Ranger balloon. A cute little Peanuts float. Kevin and Keltie give a little history about Charlie Brown. Oh, there’s another singer I know – Diana Ross.

We’re at the 2-hour-and-50 minute mark and very abruptly Santa Claus shows up. CBS doesn’t really have much of a build up to him. They didn’t even give a little tease for the kiddies saying he’s coming up soon or anything. That’s who all the kids want to still see nowadays right?


NBC – While CBS have wrapped things up, NBC has The Spirit of America Dance Stars perform and of course ending with the arrival of Santa. The show credits play over cheesy shots of him waving, the crowd waving, dancers waving. EVERYONE IS WAVING!

CBS – Kevin and Keltie end their broadcast with the empty street behind them, their families around them and sign off.

I don’t know why I continue to do this to myself.

NBC Macys Thanksgiving Parade Santa Claus 2018

OK, let’s look at the Scoreboard Tally:

Number of Musical Performances: (I’m not going to count marching bands, cheerleader performances or straight up dancing performances because one would expect to see them in a parade.)
CBSThree in the first half hour while they waited for the parade to make it to them. Once the parade got to them the only music heard was from the parade going past them.

NBC – Oh boy! They did that over-the-top singing intro, then had five musical numbers in the first hour, not including the Rockettes.
They then had twenty – 20! Twenty lip synced musical performances during its three-hour broadcast! I seriously didn’t think it was that many! Maybe I could have miscounted since my brain was numbing as I watched this, but if I’m even in the ballpark that is completely absurd for a parade broadcast! That is a lot of singing for those who only tuned in to watch a parade.

Celebrity Interviews/Promoting Network Shows
CBS – four CBS affiliated-guests from their shows.

NBC – they didn’t straight out interview any of their stars (other than Tina Fey who sat in momentarily), but they made up for that with all those short sound bytes of their network stars going in and out of commercial breaks. I’m not bothering to count them up.

Awkward Promotion of Sponsors:
CBS – Three. They had two infomercial-type of segments and Kevin and Keltie did that odd promo for Ancestry DNA.

NBC – That one strange Ram Truck piece

Visual Pros and Cons:

CBS – I still think they come out on top for a purer broadcast of a parade. Viewers actually get to see marching down the street and the scope of this long parade line coming down 6th Avenue. They have overhead cameras that give a birds eye view, even when the cameras are on their hosts interviewing their guests (which viewers don’t want to see and is aggravating) their elevated spot still manages to capture some of the parade activity in the background.

Their broadcast conveys more of the ‘big New York parade’ taking place.

NBC – It’s mainly a stage show. They’re boxed-in in front of Macy’s and the scale of this thing taking place in the middle of the city just doesn’t come across. Their cameras are able to get up close to performers who are doing their lip sync numbers on floats, but I don’t think that’s what most viewers want to see.

So, once again I award the better Thanksgiving Parade broadcast to CBS. There is a lot they can improve on, and considering they’re getting no cooperation from Macy’s and have to piece together coverage on their own with no assistance they manage it ok.

Kevin Frazier Keltie Knight CBS Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade HostsCompared to NBC where it’s just a showcase for dozens of musical numbers and is such an artificial and manufactured feeling broadcast, CBS is a bit better. Any hint of an actual parade taking place in the city is by coincidence on NBC.

You know how the whole holiday is meant to be about being thankful and family? NBC wholeheartedly embraces the corporate nature of what this parade is. Their broadcast has become an advertisement that’s interrupted by ads! “Oh, let’s talk about all the craftsmanship that went into making this float or the kids who saved up for months to come to NY. NAH, here’s our third singer who has an NBC special coming up!”

And CBS, you’re no saints with your coverage either! Just because you have a better shot of the balloons shouldn’t let you off the hook! We all understand the corporate sponsors are needed to pay for all this junk and that allows kids to see the big balloons – but really calm down with all the product placement just a little!

Just because CBS doesn’t showcase anywhere close to the number of musical performances as NBC, it gives more time for the CBS hosts to talk and talk and talk. The NBC hosts jump in with short sound bytes, CBS gives full blown out rambling lectures.

Leona Lewis Macys Thanksgiving Parade NBC singingBoth networks coverage would be helped with more of a focus on the parade, add some informative copy for the hosts to read about what these floats are (other than what sponsor its from) and nixing the attempts at humor. Using the event to promote their networks and interviewing random stars is nothing viewers want to see, but I guess that’s just become so ingratiated into these broadcasts they’ll continue doing it.

I read that NBC broadcast of the parade had some big ratings. People are clearly tuning into it, despite so many complaints about so little of the parade they show. So, maybe most people are happy with the show. I still think it’s truly an awful broadcast. Much worse than CBS, who I guess gets trounced by them every year.

I wonder if NBC will bring back the ‘Roker-Cycle’ next year…


*A Look At CBS’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Coverage
*The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Broadcast Is Awful!
*The TV Coverage of The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Stinks

*How Much of The Thanksgiving Parade Do The Networks Show?

5 thoughts on “Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Coverage By NBC & CBS – Still Horrible

  1. I thought there is a pandemic going on…? Didn’t see anyone in the major crowds wearing masks, and it looked packed. Am i watching last years?

  2. I thought there is a pandemic going on…? Didn’t see anyone in the major crowds wearing masks, and it looked packed. Am i watching last years?

  3. Producers should be fired! It should be called The Macy’s day emcee’s day with lots of commercials interspersed with fleeting glimpses of a parade. WORTHLESS.
    Not surprising from self glorifying CBS and NBC

  4. 2023 had the worst Macy’s parade ever! CBS was the only network available on you tube TV and all there was interviews and commercials with very little coverage of the floats and bands. I turned my TV off after about 30 minutes of the little parade coverage. Maybe next year will be better. But will they learn?

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