NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke, speaking today to investors at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, painted what most observers would call a grim picture of NBC’s profitability.
Deadline.com reports that the exec said the network trails its rivals by as much as $1 billion, even though it has “essentially the same cost structure” as CBS, ABC and Fox.
"That’s bad news, right? Not to Steve Burke," the story reports. To Burke, the gap “represents a huge opportunity” to grow, the piece notes.
"Burke is upbeat about collecting more cash from retransmission consent deals with pay TV distributors," the article reports. "NBC made ‘virtually nothing’ from cable and satellite companies two years ago and expects to see $200M in payments this year. That should continue to grow with 75% of NBC’s distribution deals expiring over the next three years. With other networks commanding big increases — including CBS from its recent showdown with Time Warner Cable — Burke sees ‘no reason why we won’t draft behind other broadcasters.’”
Burke said he expects ad rates to improve, noting that NBC’s ad pricing represents about a 20% discount on the rates commanded by rival networks.
“Our ratings are lower than we’d like them to be," Burke said, adding that the discount “will go away” — but “it may not be in a year.”
"He expects big improvements this year with the Winter Olympics running on NBC in February, the middle of the broadcast season," the piece reports.
Said Burke: “It will be a great launch pad for all of our spring shows. … We feel like we’re putting ourselves in a position to do better this fall and spring.”