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Roberts See Synergies Happening at NBCU - Broadcasting & Cable

Roberts See Synergies Happening at NBCU

Comcast CEO says there is a lot of cross pollination
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Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says that synergies are already taking place between its assets and NBC Universal properties it now controls.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference for investors Wednesday, Roberts noted that over the weekend, NBC Sports and the Golf Channel cooperated on their coverage of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, with ratings up on both the Golf Channel and what was dubbed "Golf Channel on NBC.

"There's a lot of cross pollination," he said.

Similarly, he said NBC's Today show worked with E! on Academy Awards red carpet coverage. And there's more to come.

While demonstrating the Play Now feature on the Comcast Xfinity iPad app that allows users to view live programming, he noted that NBCU shows were not available. "I think we're going to fix that very soon."

Roberts said that the NBCU acquisition had been accomplished on better terms than anticipated, and that four weeks since the deal closed, "I feel great" about the acquisition. He added that synergies between Comcast and NBC Universal were not factored into how much Comcast was willing to pay for the media company.

He noted that the NBC broadcast network is in last place and that new NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt "has a very tough job." With the ad market improving and broadcasters getting retransmission fees, "NBC today loses money. Hopefully in the future that won't be the case."

While devices like the iPad are changing the way consumers use Comcast's video service because they make it easier to find content than cable's traditionally clunky combination of a remote control and set-top box, Roberts said.  Asked whether Comcast would be buying or subsidizing tablets for customers, he said, "that might not be necessary" because consumers are buying so many of the devices and prices are dropping. "We may choose a marketing partnership" with a device maker, he added.

Roberts said the company's best business is broadband. He said the company's strategy has been to be "the best pipe in and out of the home," and that that strategy is panning out as consumer demand for "bits to the home" increases.

He said that Comcast has doubled the speed of its base product, but about 20% of its customers pay extra for faster service. "You'll see us increase speeds again in the future."

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