Olympics help boost NBC Universal’s profit (Update)

October 10, 2008


General Electric posted its quarterly earnings this morning — and that means it’s time to think about NBC Universal.

Aided by the Beijing Olympics, GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said that NBC Universal’s profit rose 10 percent as the media business “continued to see signs of strength.”

“Cable and films had a solid quarter, and the success of the Beijing Olympics showed the value of the network model,” he said in a statement.

NBC Universal’s revenue rose 35 percent in the quarter and is up 15 percent over the first nine months. The rise in profit marked the eighth straight quarter of growth.

In this climate, those are pretty reassuring numbers. But will any upbeat news about NBC Universal be lost in the broader upheaval of the business world? Most analysts are focussed on GE’s exposure to financial services rather than its media division.

But that’s probably just fine with everyone over at at NBC Universal, where feathers have been ruffled by the persistent speculation that the division could be sold or spun out.


NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker, in an internal letter, tried to reassured NBC employees:

As Jeff Immelt said in his town hall with us this week, we remain an important part of GE. We should all feel very good about this kind of endorsement.

He added that cable fueled the strength in the quarter: networks USA, Bravo, SCI FI, Oxygen, MSNBC, CNBC each had “a record-breaking quarter in ratings.”

Keep an eye on:

  • Barack Obama’s campaign has purchased a half-hour slot on prime-time television on Oct. 29, six days before the U.S. election (Reuters)
  • Clive Davis is quietly reasserting his power at Sony Music Entertainment (NY Post)
  • Preliminary data from Nielsen Monitor-Plus suggests that marketers of credit-card services are starting to cut back on TV ad spending (AdAge.com)

(Reuters photo of GE’s Immelt)

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