NBC Universal Profit Down 49% to $199 Million in Q1
Cable continues to do well, Olympics losses only $223 million
By Claire Atkinson -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/16/2010 9:46:03 AM
A measure of how the economy has hit media companies, NBC Universal's first quarter revenue just two years ago in the same period was $712 million. In the same period, 2009, when NBC Universal aired the Super Bowl, profit was $391 million.
On an earnings call, Friday (April 16), GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt said of the unit, "We think our worst quarter is behind us." GE CFO Keith Sherin noted that the Olympic Games in Vancouver was slightly better than GE had first suggested with the loss at $223 million rather than the predicted $250 million.
The company also noted that its cable segment saw revenue up 3% to $1.2 billion. On the positive side, the company noted a 7% increase in profits at CNBC, the financial news cable channel that had been hit by a dip in financial advertising during the recession. Other parts of the NBC Universal cable empire performed well with women's channel Oxygen almost doubling profit in the first quarter. USA continued to be the number one cable channel overall, according to the GE presentation.
GE is selling a majority stake in NBC Universal to Comcast Corp. and is in the midst of regulatory filings; the deal is currently in the midst of a comment period. GE owns an 80% stake in NBC Universal with French media company Vivendi holding the balance.
NBC Universal had a disappointing performance from the film studio, but the company noted growth in digital ad revenue and strong results from online video play Hulu.
Sherin said scatter rates are up 20% in both broadcast and cable, while local ad revenue was up 15% in the first quarter and 10% in the fourth quarter. He noted that such figures bode well for the mid-May upfront.
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