Comcast-NBCU: For Comcast, Deal Is All About Cable
No big changes for Hulu
By Claire Atkinson -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/3/2009 10:36:37 AM
Comcast announced today it has a deal to acquire a controlling interest in General Electric's NBC Universal which it will pair with its own cable channel assets which include E!Entertainment. NBC Universal houses scores of cable channel brands from top performing USA Network, Bravo and Sci-Fi to news services CNBC, MSNBC among others.
Brian Roberts, CEO at the Philadelphia-based cable operator predicted that cable revenue would continue to grow significantly. Affiliate fees have been growing at 12% per year, advertising sales have been growing at 7% per year due to increasing ratings. Roberts pointed out that NBC Universal has five channels each with over $200 million in operating cash flow.
In a slide, Comcast showed analysts just how well NBC Universals cable channels have been managed for margins. The compound annual growth rate of those cable channels is 16% over the past five years, while Comcast's cable channels have grown 10% over the same period. Comcast's Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke said: "In the last five years affiliate fees have grown 12%. I'm not sure they'll continue to go up, hopefully they'll go up single digits not double, but I think they're going to go up. But even if affiliate revenue goes up in the mid-single digits then it's still a solid leg of the stool."
Comcast is also a distributor of programming and pays other companies to carry their cable channels. He said Comcast's bet is that affiliate revenue and advertising revenue will both continue to rise. "It's hard to think of a better business in media with better fundamentals," said Burke. The executives reiterated that NBC network would be used to cross-promote those cable channels more extensively.
Asked whether the deal might lead to the sale or purchase of assets, Burke responded that the two companies certainly had the ability to launch new channels, and new video on demand packages. He also pointed out that other opportunities to grow business would flow from addressable advertising which is the ability to deliver different ad messages to consumers based on their location or interests.
In the TV online sphere, Burke said Hulu would likely continue to represent broadcast network shows while cable shows would be available via Comcast, and other identification programs. "Those strategies are smart and appropriate. We see a lot of content going to Hulu and being available for free and cable content being on TV Everywhere. Hulu and TV Everywhere are complementary," said Burke.
The executives refused to be drawn on whether the new entity would create big competition for ESPN, saying simply there's room for two. They also had little to say on future Olympic bids, except to say that was GE's call. North American TV rights to the 2014 and 2016 games are not yet assigned.
No related content found.
Most Popular Pages
No Top Articles