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NBCU Says Its Strong Upfront Ad Sales Cut Pricing Gap With Competition

NBCU Says Its Strong Upfront Ad Sales Cut Pricing Gap With CompetitionNBC and cable networks led by USA “were trading at a 20% discount to our competition” in the cost-per-viewer of ad sales before the recent upfront market, NBCU chief Steve Burke told analysts this morning. “We’re now at about a 10% discount.” Comcast‘s entertainment arm says it bucked a trend in the upfront — seen as generally down 5% vs last year — as it benefits from the growing popularity of its shows, and a decision to sell broadcast and cable ad inventory together. “If the industry was down 5% and we were up 10%, that’s a 15% difference vs what we would have done” if NBCU had sold broadcast and cable separately. “It’s a swing of $750M” that will go “a long way toward closing monetization gap.”
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Comcast Reports Mixed Q2 Financials As NBCU Films Slip, Offsetting TV Strength

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 4:13am PDT

Comcast Reports Mixed Q2 Financials As NBCU Films Slip, Offsetting TV StrengthComcast has become so big and complex that its earnings are almost always mixed — and Q2 was no exception, although the combination of soft revenue growth with strong profits sent shares up 2.1% in pre-market trading. The cable giant reported net income of $2.03B, +16.1% vs the period last year, on revenues of $16.84B, +3.5%. Analysts expected the top line to come in a little higher, at $16.95B. But earnings at 76 cents a share handily beat the consensus forecast of 72 cents.

NBCUniversal also seemed to have a split personality with operating cash flow +20.4% to $1.43B while revenues were +0.3% to $6.02B. The main Cable Networks operation saw sales grow 2.6% to $2.48B with affiliate fees +4.2% while ad sales fell 2.2%. Still, by controlling costs, the unit’s operating cash flow rose 6.3% to $914M. The Broadcast Television unit told a similar story: With rising retransmission consent fees, its revenues increased 4.9% to $1.8B. Image (4) the-voice-judges__140601175730-275x183.jpg for post 738728But ad sales fell 1.7%, which the network partly attributes to having fewer hours of The Voice than it had last year. Still, broadcast operating cash flow increased 16.2% to $240M reflecting, the company says, “a slight increase in operating costs and expenses.” Theme Parks proved to be NBCU’s most consistent performer despite the increased costs for Orlando’s The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley attraction which opened this month. Attendance and spending were both up, resulting in a 12.8% increase in revenues to $615M with … Read More »

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TCA: Meredith Vieira On ‘The View’: “You Can’t Go Back”

TCA: Meredith Vieira On ‘The View’: “You Can’t Go Back”Meredith Vieira, who came to TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014 to plug her new NBCUniversal daytime talk show debuting on September 8, got asked if, were she not launching her own daytime show, would she be interested in returning to ABC’s daytime talker The View. Vieira served as that show’s original moderator from its debut on August 11, 1997, until June 9, 2006.

“No,” Vieira responded firmly. “I knew after nine years it was time to leave The View; I have a pretty good sense of timing and I always like to get out before something bad happens.” Having since appeared on The View several times during which she said she was treated “lovingly,” she came to realize “you can’t go back.” Going back, she said, would have seemed “crazy aunt going back.”

That’ll be news to Rosie O’Donnell, who in fact is going back to the show she famously left after one short, acrimonious season.  ABC confirmed Rosie’s hire in a tweet, ending a mad media chase of this The View Is Out Of New Ideas story. Read More »

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NBCU Taps CFO For E!, Esquire Network

By | Monday June 30, 2014 @ 12:51pm PDT

NBCU Taps CFO For E!, Esquire NetworkThe company has stayed in-house for the new top money man at two of its cable nets. Donald Storm III has been named CFO of E! and Esquire Network, overseeing all financial operations for both and  pursuing Donald Storm IIIgrowth opportunities. He had been VP Financial Planning and Analysis at NBCUniversal Corporate. Based in LA, Storm will report to E! President Suzanne Kolb and Esquire chief Adam Stotsky, working with Catherine Dunleavy, EVP and CFO of NBCU Cable Entertainment. Earlier in his career, Storm was an Audit Manager for GE corporate.

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Florida Judge Dismisses George Zimmerman’s Libel Suit Against NBC

By | Monday June 30, 2014 @ 8:02am PDT

Florida Judge Dismisses George Zimmerman’s Libel Suit Against NBCA  Florida judge has dismissed George Zimmerman‘s defamation lawsuit against NBCUniversal. Judge Debra Nelson said Zimmerman’s camp failed to prove NBC News acted with malice when it aired an edited version of his 911 call after shooting Trayvon Martin, according to press reports.

NBCUniversal LogoZimmerman filed the suit in December 2012, after NBC editors cut out portions of audio recordings of his 911 call, which made it sound as if he had volunteered the race of shooting victim Martin unsolicited; in the call, Zimmerman said “he looks black” in response to a question from the 911 dispatcher, asking, of Martin, “Is he black, white or Hispanic?”

“NBC News is gratified by the court’s dismissal of this lawsuit, which we have always believed to be without merit,” the network said this morning in a statement.

NBC News fired three producers over the incident, apologized, but insisted there was no intent to portray Zimmerman “unfairly.” Attorneys for NBC had argued the reports in question aired about a month after the shooting, by which time Zimmerman was a public figure; the judge agreed and said “actual malice” had to be proven, and was not.
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R.I.P. Ron Silveira

By | Tuesday June 24, 2014 @ 3:22pm PDT

Ron-SilveiraThe postproduction industy veteran died Saturday of cancer. Ron Silveira spent the past decade at NBCUniversal, where he was VP Universal Studios Digital Services. The unit provides post services for several NBCUni departments including home entertainment, TV distribution and feature marketing. He also did a nine-year stint at the Post Group, where he oversaw its VFX division and digital film group. Silveira also created Momentum Lab, a design group focused on feature titles and commercial work;  was involved in establishing the first nonlinear editing systems; and helped develop HD services for film and TV markets, which included a digital intermediate process for creating a digital negative and HD masters from data. He was a former president of the Southern California chapter of post industry trade group ITS., and earlier in his career served as President of Compact Video/Image Transform and President of Unitel Video.

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NBC Wraps Upfront Sales Boasting Pricing Advantage Over Peers – Just Like CBS Did

By | Tuesday June 24, 2014 @ 2:17pm PDT

NBC Wraps Upfront Sales Boasting Pricing Advantage Over Peers – Just Like CBS DidNBC Upfront is wrapping with about $2.52 billion in primetime and late-night advertising commitments. That’s about a 15% increase compared to last year’s 2.25 billion. Across all its properties — broadcast, cable and digital — NBCUniversal brought about $6 billion this upfront – up from $5.4 billion last year. At NBCU, broadcast moves as one with cable and digital upfront sales; other networks handle the annual exercise differently. NBCU is “done – its whole portfolio,” explained one exec with knowledge of the situation.

The NBC broadcast network won the recently wrapped TV season in the demo for the first time in a decade with a 13% ratings spike — the biggest year-to-year gain for any Big 4 network in nine years. Even without its 18 nights of Sochi Olympics coverage, NBC boasted the season’s biggest demo audience, topping Super Bowl-boosted Fox. NBC’s gains blanketed the entire week, including double-digit year-to-year demo gains on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Its most talked about improvement: the 39% gain at 10 PM Mondays with The Blacklist originals – Blacklist being the season’s No. 1 new series and No. 2 drama, and NBC’s Monday being the top-rated regular schedule on any broadcast network in the demo, with an average 4.3 rating for regular programming. Read More »

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NBCU & WWE Re-Up Multi-Year Partnership To Keep ‘Monday Night Raw’ & ‘Smackdown’ On USA, Syfy

By | Thursday May 15, 2014 @ 2:34pm PDT

Upfronts2014_badge__140505214755 (1)It’s a done NBCUniversal_logo__130703185055__130828012117deal. NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and WWE today announced a multi-year partnership that will keep Monday Night Raw and SmackDown on USA Network and Syfy, respectively. The announcement was made today by Paul Levesque, WWE’s EVP Talent, Live Events & Creative, during NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s upfront presentation in New York. “USA Network President Chris McCumber, Syfy President Dave Howe and I are incredibly pleased to renew this strategic partnership with WWE,” said NBCU Cable Chairman Bonnie Hammer. “In today’s TV landscape, live event programming is an extraordinarily valuable asset, and WWE remains the only entertainment franchise that consistently delivers this on a 52-week-a-year basis. We look forward to bringing WWE’s action-packed and unique brand of drama to the wide audiences across our cable networks for many years to come.” Read More »

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NBCU Cable Upfront Presentation Live Blog: WWE Deal Announced, Joel McHale Needs A Drink, Upfront Week Wraps

By | Thursday May 15, 2014 @ 1:45pm PDT

Upfronts2014_badge__140505214755 (1)For the first time NBCUniversal bookends Broadcast Upfront Week — culminating in this afternoon’s NBCU usa-network-logoCable Entertainment Group at the Javits Center, including Bravo, E!, Esquire Network, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, and USA Network.

The presentation will have a hard time topping Joan and Melissa Rivers in the E! Red Carpet Mani-Cam, doing spot-on finger impressions of Lea Michelle and Sharon Stone for Giuliana Rancic and Ross Matthews.  Kim Kardashian adjusted her engagement ring to make sure it was caught on the Mani-Cam in all its glory, then declared her fingers ugly and pulled out.

Here’s how it went:

4:20 PM ET: Big question of this upfront seems to be who is going to host it. NBCU Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer opened the orgy of new and returning show plugging by assuring us she’s not hosting, and touting the fact this combined network presentation boasted “120 of our on-air talent — that’s 120 wonderful humans.” She continued: “I know how grueling it can be running around town, sitting through umpteen presentations. .. We hope to earn a few brownie points saving your time… shoe leather and taxi fares.”

4:35 PM ET: NBCU’s ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino calls herself the Kim Kardashian of NBCU Cable. Kim Kardashian walks out and says “Hold on I believe I’M the Kim Kardashian of NBC Universal.” Yaccarino tries to give the two of them a name: Kardino?

“Enough about that,”Kim … Read More »

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Mun2 Unveils New Celebrity Reality Series, Expanded Sports Programming & More

By | Tuesday May 13, 2014 @ 5:00pm PDT

NBCUniversal LogosNBCUniversal’s Hispanic cable network mun2 unveiled its programming lineup for 2014-2015 at its upfront presentation tonight in New York. It features new Hispanic celebrity reality series starring international Latin music icon Gloria Trevi, as well as sports programming including the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series, FIFA World Cup and the 2016 games of the Summer XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro. Mun2 also announced it is developing an action/drama scripted series set in a contemporary Mexican town. Here are programming details: Read More »

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Telemundo Slate Includes New Novelas, Musical Competition Series & More

By | Tuesday May 13, 2014 @ 4:30pm PDT

telemundo_logo_detailTelemundo unveiled more than 800 original hours across all platforms for its 2014-2015 programming line-up, including five new primetime novelas and a new Sunday night primetime musical competition series. Joe Uva, Chairman of Telemundo-parent, Hispanic Enterprises and Content –  a division of NBCUniversal — officially announced Luis Silberwasser as the new President of Telemundo Network, to start in August. At New York’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, Uva also introduced the new brand positioning and programming line-up for mun2, accompanied by its newly appointed president, Rubén Mendiola. The presentation concluded with a performance by Prince Royce, current coach of Telemundo’s highly-rated singing competition La Voz Kids. Read More »

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NBC Execs Talk Up Comcast Synergy In A “New Era For Media”

By | Monday May 12, 2014 @ 9:29am PDT

Upfronts2014_badgeThe broadcast network is “firing on all cylinders” as it ends the season No. 1 in its 18-to-49 target audience, NBCUniversal Advertising Sales President Linda Yaccarino says. But the network’s main business pitch at its upfront presentation this morning was familiar to anyone who showed up last year: As part of Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, COMCASTNBC offers far more corporate synergies than its broadcast peers, presenting buyers with opportunities to make a “portfolio wide investment” from one sales team in “the most amazing collection of brands ever assembled,” she says. ”We proved it. It works. It works by a mile.” Yaccarino pointed to Comcast’s Project Symphony broadcast-cable-digital-movie-theme park-cable system promotions for LindaYaccarinoUniversal’s Despicable Me, the Olympics, and NBC’s The Blacklist. (Telemundo and NBC’s cable channels will make separate presentations to ad buyers this week.)

Related: NBC Upfronts Presentation 2014: Live-Blog

NBC couldn’t ignore the Internet following weeks of NewFront presentations from tech companies including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL that want to lure ad dollars from TV to their online video productions.”You’ll see much more growth in digital investments” in “a new era in media” for Comcast, the sales chief says. She touted investments in the “NBCU+ Powered by Comcast” initiative that offers buyers targeted VOD ads and data from its cable set top boxes. The company offers “more ways to measure our success, like no other company can do.” Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: NBCUniversal, Amazon Ink UK Streaming Deal; Fox International Channels Takes ‘Wayward Pines’ Rights; More

Amazon, NBCUniversal Ink U.K. Streaming Deal
key_art_parks_and_recreationAmazon and NBCUniversal have finalized a UK instant video subscription deal that will make hundreds of episodes of U.S. TV series available on Prime Instant Video. Amazon is bringing multiple seasons of such NBCUniversal shows as Suits, Grimm and Parks And Recreation to the UK’s largest movie and TV streaming subscription service. Also included in the deal are renewals of series such as Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, The Office (U.S.) and 30 Rock. Read More »

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Comcast And Olympics Organizers Take A $7.65B Leap Of Faith On Future Games

OlympicsRingsThe International Olympic Committee didn’t take competitive bids the way it did in 2011 — when Fox and ESPN joined the fray — before accepting Comcast’s $7.65B offer to carry the games in the U.S. through 2032. But the $1.4B increase in the outlay by the owner of NBCUniversal “is not small” for the IOC its president, Thomas Bach, said today in a conference call. NBC has handled 23 Olympics beginning with the Tokyo games in 1964 and the IOC “Comcast-new-logo__130212144603-200x112wanted to build on this long term partnership with NBC so we could be sure, and we are sure, that the Olympic games will be presented in a way the Olympic spirit requires.” He vowed that more than 90% of the revenue will go to organizers of future Olympics, giving planners financial security.

Related: NBC Nabs Olympics Rights Through 2032

Comcast chief Brian Roberts says he felt comfortable making the offer, even though he doesn’t know where the future games will be held, after his company recorded a profit from London and Sochi. Plans to combine the cable company’s “technology leadership and X1 platform” with NBC’s storytelling expertise mean “we’ve only begun to scratch the surface,” Roberts says. 

Th execs began their private talks to extend their partnership at a private dinner in NYC in November, and continued the conversation at Sochi. Bach says he was so eager to work with a trusted collaborator that he was satisfied with a handshake, although “the lawyers insisted that we even sign some papers.” Execs offered few additional details about the terms, including whether NBCU’s Telemundo might air the games in Spanish. Read More »

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Jay Leno Gets A Street Of His Own At Universal Studios

By | Wednesday April 30, 2014 @ 8:06pm PDT

Next time you’re on the Universal Studios lot, feel free to take a stroll down memory lane — also known as Jay Leno Lane. A gaggle of NBCUniversal execs were on hand with Jay Leno on Wednesday as the street was dedicated in honor of the longtime Tonight Show host, who bowed out in February. Leno might be tempted to cruise some of his myriad classic cars down the block, but Jaywalking obviously is encouraged.

Jay Leno Lane

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NBCU Hit With ‘Comedy Playground’ Trademark Suit

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 5:48pm PDT

NEW DJP LEGAL BADGEThe Peacock’s search for new comedy talent might have to find itself a new name. NBCUniversal was hit with a trademark infringement compliant (read it here) this week by a L.A. group trains people in the art of the funny under the name Comedy Playground. Earlier this month, NBC’s Entertainment President Jennifer Salke nbc comedy playground logoannounced the national NBC Comedy Playground campaign that would offer up-and-coming comedy writers a chance to pitch ideas to the network. The two winners would get a half-hour show each on NBC for next summer. Not so fast, says the other Comedy Playground in its suit filed April 23 in federal court. “The harm caused by NBC’s actions to Comedy Playground and its reputation is devastating and irreversible,” says the 13-page filing of the network’s contest set to start May 1. “Even though NBC’s contest has not yet formally begun, Comedy Playground has already experienced multiple instances of actual confusion. If permitted to continue, NBC’s use of the COMEDY PLAYGROUND name and mark will deceive the public about the relationship of the parties and effectively obliterate Comedy Playground’s hard earned reputation and goodwill.” Read More »

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NBC & USA To Develop English-Language Versions Of Telemundo Telenovelas: Video

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 7:47am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

seniorSo far, the symbiotic relationship between Telemundo and its NBCUniversal siblings had gone mainly in one direction — with Telemundo doing Spanish-language versions of programs on its English-language counterparts, like La Voz Kids (The Voice Kids), Top Chef Estrellas and Access Hollywood Al Rojo Vivo. Now the flow will start moving the other way too, with NBC committing to develop an English-language version of El Señor de los Cielos (The Lord Of The Skies), Telemundo’s highest-rated novela last season, and USA Network putting in development Telemundo’s upcoming novela NBCUniversal_logo__130703185055Mujer de Acero (Woman Of Steel). The adaptations will be produced by Universal TV and Universal Cable Prods., respectively. This marks the first time that NBC and USA have optioned content from Telemundo. The move comes a year after the Spanish-language network was placed under the purview of NBCUniversal’s Bonnie Hammer, who also oversees USA, and Joe Uva was put in charge of it. NBC had been interested in cracking the telenovela genre. Last fall, the network inked a deal with Electus to develop three telenovelas with an eye toward airing one as a 13-episode series — with multiple episodes running each week, following telenovelas’ traditional air pattern.

Inspired by true events, the action-filled El Señor de los Cielos tells the story of Aurelio Casillas (Rafael Amaya), one of the most prominent Mexican drug lords from the ’90s, whose ambition was to become one of the richest and most powerful men in Mexico (watch the English-language trailer below.) It ranked as Telemundo’s #1 novela last year averaging 2.3 million total viewers and nearly 1.5 million adults 18-49. The season finale averaged over 3.6 million viewers and beat Univision among adults 18-49 and 18-34 in its period. Read More »

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Comcast Expects NBC To Catch Up To Rivals In Upfront Ad Market

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 6:36am PDT

Steve Burke“Monetization gap” is the clunky term NBCU chief Steve Burke frequently uses when he laments the low ad rates his company commands after years of flailing in the TV ratings wars. But with NBC poised to end the prime time season No. 1 in its target 18-to-49 demo, he tells analysts today that he’s going into the upfront sales market “with our best position in a decade” and “it’s going to be worth a lot.” He knows better than to offer specific numbers, but notes that “we can’t find any network that’s swung as much in a year.” CFO Michael Angelakis also said that this will be “a very meaningful correction year.” This was one reason CEO Brian Roberts says NBCU “has real momentum and we believe this is sustainable throughout 2014.”
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Olympics Help Comcast To Beat Q1 Earnings Expectations

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 4:09am PDT

COMCASTThe Sochi Olympics generated more than $1.1B in revenue which enabled NBCUniversal to propel the cable giant’s strong financial results. Comcast generated $1.87B in net income attributable to the company, +30.2% vs the first three months of 2013, on revenues of $17.4B, +13.7%. The top-line number nbcsochi__131202172913__140212145821beat the $17.04B that analysts expected. Earnings not including one-time items came in at 68 cents a share, ahead of the consensus forecast of 64 cents. With the Olympics dough, NBCU revenues increased 28.8% to $6.88B with operating cash flow +37.6% to $1.31B. The broadcast operation led the way with a 72.8% boost in revenues to $2.6B — but still would have been up 17% without the Games due to a 15.8% increase in ad sales from NBC’s improved ratings. Cable network revenue increased 12.6% to $2.5B, but would have been up just 1% without the Olympics. due to a 1.4% drop in ad sales.

Related: Comcast Expects NBC To Catch Up To Rivals In Upfront Ad Market

Ride Along #1 box officeAt the smaller Universal filmed entertainment operation, revenues increased 11.1% to $1.4B with help from Ride Along and Lone Survivor and overseas sales for The Wolf Of Wall Street. And theme park revenues increased 5.4% to $487M as per capita spending increased while attendance remained stable. The core cable business also did well — even with video subscriptions, up by 24,000 to 22.6M. Revenues for all of the cable systems offerings including broadband increased 5.3% to $10.8B due to rate hikes, upselling, and customer growth. Read More »

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