Fresh from announcing a new joint venture with General Electric to share ownership of NBC Universal, Comcast management was again out selling the deal to investors. The company reaffirmed its commitment to retaining the NBC broadcast network.
Speaking at the annual UBS media conference, top executives said they saw significant upside to helping NBC get to "third, second or first place."
Company chief operating officer Steve Burke said he defined the NBC broadcast network as three businesses, "To us, it's the network, the broadcast stations and TV production. When you look at those three as an ecosystem, it's a good business, but it's got its challenges."
Burke said: "Network rankings are cyclical. There's a lot of reasons why the guy in last place can put on more shows, while the guy in first place waits too long to retire shows." He later told investors, "There's a chance the broadcast business economics might get better," with an improving ad climate and with better ratings. He added that NBC had a valuable role since many of the shows that power the top cable network, USA and other cable properties were derived from the network. The company sees a much bigger use of NBC for promoting its cable assets. "There is tremendous financial leverage in having NBC go from fourth to third to second to first."