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February 17, 2011 by · 5 Comments 

Steve Burke

On the day that Comcast reported fourth-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts’ expectations, the company indicated that it intended to institute some serious belt-tightening at its newly acquired NBC Universal subsidiary. In a conference call, Steve Burke, the new CEO of NBC Universal, said that for now, he intends on focusing on the profitable cable channels that the company operates, not on the unprofitable NBC broadcast network. He indicated that he thoug that it would be “three, four, five years” before NBC would likely see a turnaround. “I don’t think that we are going to see anything for awhile,” he said. He expressed satisfaction with NBC News but noted that while sports telecasts may produce strong ratings, they lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year. He also suggested that NBC, which lost more than $220 million on the Vancouver Olympics, may not be willing to bid for the games if they’re going to result in similar losses for the network in the future. “We’re here to be disciplined,” Burke said. “Our job is to increase value.” Earlier in the day Comcast CEO Brian Roberts described NBC News as “the crown jewel of Comcast.” Appearing on MSNBC, Roberts said that the reason that Comcast bought NBC Universal “was to restore, rebuild, regrow and invest, not to radically change or undo, but to try and build up.”

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  • adam_hartung

    Sounds pretty smart. Investing in a money losing legacy will only propagate additional losses. Focusing on future markets, including how internet distribution and competition should be addressed, is a lot more valuable that investing in broadcast TV – which continues losing mind-share and share of total entertainment minutes to alternatives. Read more about how “NBC/Comcast Must Pick the Right Battle to Succeed” at

  • Utahpawted71

    The strategy may have worked for ABC (i.e. giving up sports), but NBC doesn’t own an ESPN to maintain the sports hig-profile. They better not give up on Football. Even as a money losing proposition, it gives them a promotional platform they don’t see throughout the rest of the week.

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