The slide in NBC’s prime time ratings overwhelmed the strength of its cable-network siblings, trimming revenues and profits at the NBC Universal division. Parent company General Electric said Friday that NBC Universal’s fourth-quarter revenues fell 3% to $4.2 billion, while operating profit dropped 7% to $801 million.
NBC’s broadcast problems were a tremendous drag all year and should be again in 2006. Profits from the NBC prime time, O&O stations and program production plunged 60% during the fourth quarter and 26% for the full year. Broadcast profits are expected to fall another 20%-25% during 2006.
But NBC U’s cable networks (including No. 1 rated USA Network) film studio Universal and theme parks boosted profit by 23% for the quarter and 73% for the year. Growth in 2006, however, is expected to be more modest, just 10%-15%.