If NBC's takeover of Vivendi Universal's U.S. media assets goes through, it will boast six cable networks, five of which reach into more than 70 million homes. Here's a look at them:
When the stock market tanked a few years ago, so did CNBC's prime time ratings, and little has changed. But the net still does well in ad sales, rewarded for its high-end audience. In 2002, CNBC's net revenue totaled $781 million, according to Kagan, the 10th-best among ad-supported cable networks.
Third-place cable news channel MSNBC is still faltering. Its prime time ratings—a 0.3 in recent months—reside in the cable Nielsen basement. Its ad time is sold in conjunction with NBC News, which helps keep financials in shape. MSNBC tallied $290.7 million in total revenue last year, according to Kagan estimates.
Since NBC plunked down $1.25 billion last December to buy the channel from Rainbow Media, things have been improving. By far, the biggest success is original makeover show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, whose popularity has helped give the net's average prime time rating a triple-digit boost, from a slim 0.3 to 0.7. NBC should also help boost Bravo's revenues, which totaled $142.9 million in 2002, according to Kagan World Media estimates.
Sci Fi Channel
After last December's $40 million Steven Spielberg series Taken hit big, Sci Fi moved into cable's upper deck, now averaging about 1 million prime time viewers. Under CEO Bonnie Hammer, the net is trying to broaden appeal without scaring off its alien-loving core. It raked in $377 million in revenue in 2002, Kagan estimates.
Universal has been trying to build up Trio as a high-end pop culture and arts network. Although Brilliant But Cancelled got some good buzz, only 15 million subscribers can see it.
While Turner's general-entertainment TNT and TBS Superstation strive for branding and niche, USA pushes its big, broad appeal, which includes original series (Monk and Peacemakers), acquired series and theatrical movies, and a sprinkling of sports. USA is routinely a top-10 rated cable net. Its 2002 revenues totaled $1 billion, according to Kagan, trailing ESPN, TNT and Nickelodeon.