NBC U Performs Beyond Expectations in Q3

Oct 10, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Record ratings and double-digit growth at its cable properties helped NBC Universal beat expectations and stand out as a golden-haired child of parent company General Electric, which reported a 22% drop in net income for the third quarter.
Considered an economic bellwether, GE said Friday that its net income for the quarter ended Sept. 20 was $4.31 billion, or 43 cents a share, down from $5.56 billion, or 54 cents a share, in third quarter 2007.
Revenue rose 11% to $47.23 billion, GE said.
Earnings from continuing operations fell 12% to $4.48 billion, or 45 cents a share, from $5.11 billion, or 50 cents, a year earlier, matching the average analyst estimate.
Despite a $40 million decline in local media revenues, NBCU’s operating profit was up for the eighth consecutive quarter to $729 million, a 10% increase from third quarter 2007.
Revenue for the quarter was $5.1 billion, up 35%, including more than $1 billion from the Beijing Olympics. Subtract the Olympics and revenues would have been up about 8%, GE Vice Chairman and CFO Keith Sherin said during the earnings call.
Mr. Sherin said NBC network revenue was down 5%.
However, NBCU President Jeff Zucker focused on what boosted his unit’s overall performance in an internal e-mail after the earnings call.
“There’s no other media company today that has properties, channels or events as hot as ‘Saturday Night Live,’ CNBC, ‘Mamma Mia!’ or the Olympics. And those were among the keys to our current success,” Mr. Zucker said.
Mr. Zucker noted that every one of the company’s major cable channels in this country had a record-breaking ratings quarter.
He said:
-five “bona fide” hits made USA the top-ranked cable entertainment network for the ninth consecutive quarter, driving viewership to an all-time cable genre record.
-Bravo marked its 12th consecutive quarter of ratings growth, up 32% in prime time year to year.
-Sci Fi rose to No. 5 among basic cable entertainment networks among adults 25 to 54, up 12%.
-Oxygen is the fastest-growing entertainment cable network, more than doubling viewers in the women 18-to-49 demo. 
-MSNBC was the fastest-growing cable channel, up 81% in prime time and nearly 50% overall. “The new ‘Rachel Maddow Show’ is off to a terrific start, outperforming Larry King on CNN in just its second week on the air,” Mr. Zucker added.
-CNBC Business Day had its best third-quarter ratings ever in total viewers, up 26% year to year.
Mr. Zucker also cited “strong ratings and ad sales gains at CNBC in Europe and Asia,” an Olympics boost in prime-time performance and “enormous growth” through DVD and international sales of Universal Media Studios properties such as “Heroes,” “House,” “The Office” and “30 Rock.”
He singled out the No. 1 rankings “across the board” of NBC News programs “in this historic election season.”
On the digital front, Mr. Zucker said Hulu, the video Web site in which it participates with Fox, is up to more than 100 content providers and more than 100 million video streams per month; CNBC.com is turning a profit just more than a year after re-launch and had more than half a billion page views during the third quarter, more than during its entire first year of operation; and NBC.com had 25 million unique visitors in September, far exceeding its previous monthly best of 17 million.
”We’ll continue to face many economic pressures in the fourth quarter, but we’ve built a portfolio of very strong businesses,’ Mr. Zucker said. “We can’t predict what the global economic picture will look like for the rest of the year, but we do know how to produce, market, and distribute great content to audiences all over the world.”
{Editor: Gilbert]

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