Profit at NBC Universal fell 30% in the fourth quarter,
according to parent company General Electric, which announced its fourth-quarter
and full-year results on Jan. 22.
Profit during the period was $602 million, down from $865
million in the fourth quarter of 2008. For the full year, NBC Universal also
saw a decline of 28%. The company, which includes the NBC network, cable
channels such as USA,
Bravo and MSNBC, and Universal Studios, saw profit down from $3.1 billion to
$2.26 billion for the year.
Revenue at NBC Universal was down 4%, to $4.2 billion, for
the final quarter of the year. For the full year revenue fell 9%, to $15
General Electric CFO Keith Sherin added that NBC Universal's
profit was consistent with the first nine months of the year. Sherrin added
that NBCU had taken around $48 million in restructuring charges.
Speaking this morning on a conference call, Sherin touched
on the decision to move Jay Leno from primetime back to his 11:35 berth but
declined to add anything new to what has already been said about the change.
Scatter pricing is healthy at NBC Universal cable and
broadcast units. In cable, scatter was up in the low double-digit range in the
fourth quarter and over 20% in the first quarter.
"The ad market is definitely looking up," said
Sherin. Cable grabbed $1.3 billion in revenue for the period. CNBC also saw
profit up 7% in the quarter.
At the network, broadcast revenue was down to $1.6 billion,
while profit fell 2% driven by higher NFL fees and new programming costs.
Local station ad revenue was also described as healthier.
Separately, NBC Universal's movie unit had trouble matching
last year's DVD sales, which were $33 million in the quarter 2008, thanks to Mamma Mia. This year's fourth-quarter
sales were down to 12 million units on weaker movies such as Inglourious Basterds and Public Enemy.
General Electric's slide presentation also noted that
digital operations were having a tough time recovering from the recession. The
Internet display market was said to be recovering much more slowly than the
general ad market. GE has implemented cost and workforce cutbacks.
Sherin noted that the NBC Universal merger with Comcast was
now in process with the two sides submitting details to the FCC and FTC, as