Comcast-NBCU: Roberts Says Hulu, TV Everywhere Are Complementary
On conference call, Zucker declines to comment on Hulu sub or pay model
By Marisa Guthrie and Alex Weprin -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/3/2009 12:57:38 PM
Acquiring a 51% stake in NBC Universal, now gives Comcast a 27% stake in Hulu. During a conference call with reporters, Comcast CEO/Chairman Brian Roberts said he does not expect to make any changes anytime soon, noting that Comcast will still be a minority owner (with Disney, News Corp. and Providence Equity Partners all having a stake) and that Hulu is very well regarded by consumers.
Roberts also says that it is not an "either-or" choice between Hulu or the authentication idea referred to informally as TV Everywhere, which Comcast is jumping into using the moniker Xfinity.
"I actually think Hulu and TV Everywhere are very complementary, there is a place for both," he said.
NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker declined to comment on whether Hulu would seek a subscription or pay model, though a number of executives who have sat on Hulu's board have said publicly the site is looking into the possibility.
Roberts also praised NBC Universal's handling of content on the web in general.
"We think the way NBC Universal is distributing its video content is consistent with the way we would do it," he said. "I think we start from the premise that during the year it will take to get this deal approved, NBCU is highly likely to do exactly what we would do [with regards to putting content online]."
The new company also creates robust opportunities with regard to addressable advertising initiatives, said executives at Comcast, which has joined with the rest of the MSOs on Canoe Ventures, the TV ad targeting company headed by David Verklin.
"The ability to have those interactive applications and gain more content and more channels could be great for advertisers," said Comcast COO Steve Burke, adding that "23 % of the revenue of this new company comes from ad sales."
Comcast is rolling out EBIF (Enhanced Binary Interchange Format), which enables interactive features such as voting and polling.
Burke admitted EBIF was not exactly a "customer friendly" name and that the company is still working on "getting the plumbing right." But he said the technology epitomizes the types of initiative Comcast and NBC Universal can fast track.
"We are big believers that interactive television is coming," he said. "And it obviously factors into our enthusiasm for this deal."
Zucker pointed to NBC female-targeted marketing unit Women@NBCU as an example of the kinds of marketing initiatives that will be enhanced by a more robust array of assets.
"That's one of the real gems in this joint venture is advertiser solutions and what we can do," Zucker said.
Asked if the broadcast network would move toward a dual revenue model that has allowed cable to whether the downturn in advertising revenue, Zucker replied: "Obviously we believe that we should be paid for content [on broadcast networks NBC and Telemundo] and to the degree that the marketplace continues to move toward more of a discreet fee for that content, that's something that we expect to participate in."
As a DISH employee I like the idea of TV everywhere some channels like the Hulu are going to be a little hard to receive. Comcast is getting the idea of TV everywhere but I have DISH and they have TV everywhere not just DVR recording but Live TV as well! I love it and I never miss any of my favorite shows.
Sarah - 1/11/2011 1:38:10 PM EST
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