NBC’s broadcast network is reviving faster than Comcast expected and represents “our biggest upside in the near term,” NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke told an investment conference this morning. Since Comcast bought a 51% stake in NBCU in January, “most of the things that have changed have changed for the better.” He says that the national ad business remains “very strong” — with spots for the 2012 Super Bowl nearly sold out. Although there are growing signs that the economy may weaken or stagnate, Burke told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference that NBC can improve once it gets the respect he says the network deserves from advertisers. He says unit prices for NBC’s ads “are discounted heavily, up to 25%” vs. ABC, CBS, and Fox. If NBC develops more must-see shows then the gap should narrow and “you can imagine hundreds of millions (of dollars) in EBITDA coming in.” Burke adds that NBC-owned stations also are “significantly less profitable than we need to be” and that “there’s no reason” that Spanish-language network Telemundo can’t reach a bigger audience. Burke also is upbeat about revenues from the networks’ and stations retransmission consent deals with cable and satellite distributors — including Comcast. The exec says that some of that cash will go back into programming. The network’s previous owner, General Electric, “had not been as enthusiastic about the business and had not been as willing to invest as we are.”
Going to work this morning, NBC Universal employees found all the company’s old signs replaced overnight with new ones. They feature the company’s new logo and new name, which is the same as the old one sans a space between the two words, NBCUniversal. (The TV networks, NBC, CNBC and MSNBC are not getting a logo overhaul, keeping the peacock intact.) Along with the new signage and new Intranet system, employees were greeted by gift boxes on their desks. The Welcome memo below explains the contents of each box, which included beautifully crafted books about the history of the merging companies, a stocks certificate for 25 Comcast shares and free passes to the Universal Theme Parks:
Today marks the birth of the new NBCUniversal. Together, Comcast and NBCUniversal are poised to become the greatest media company in the world, delivering quality content to a global audience on every conceivable platform.
We are incredibly excited about this opportunity. We’re humbled, too, since we are keenly aware that NBC and Universal both have tremendous legacies, reaching back nearly a century.
Although only half as old, Comcast also has a proud history, having grown from a single system cable operator to the largest video and residential Internet service provider in the country.
As we embark on this adventure together, it seems like a good time to reflect on how we got here. That’s why we put this
UPDATED: Comcast today held town hall meetings for NBC Universal employees in NBCU’s main outposts, New York and Los Angeles, and Comcast’s hometown Philadelphia, with remotes from Miami and London. Comcast officially unveiled the new logo for NBCUniversal (all one word) which is how it will be spelled from now on. The redesigned NBCU logo uses purple as the primary color, with the peacock and the globe both gone. However, the NBC network logo will remain unchanged, so no one should call the ASPCA in search of the beloved bird.
Brian Williams hosted the main event in New York attended by new NBCU CEO Steve Burke and 90-year-old Comcast co-founder Ralph J. Roberts who choked up giving a heartfelt speech about seeing his dream come true with the NBCU acquisition. The Los Angeles meeting went Hollywood with Ryan Seacrest, a Comcast man via his E! deal, as the host. Ralph Roberts’ son Brian was there, as well as Universal Studios president Ron Meyer and new NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt. The Philly meeting is hosted by CNBC’s Jim Cramer, with Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis and Comcast Cable head Neil Smit attending….