NBC Universal’s Zucker: Olympics still a winner

May 1, 2009

News broke this week that Anheuser-Busch has told NBC that the brewer will spend only about half as much on advertising packages during the upcoming 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games and 2012 Summer Games in London, compared to previous years.

Over at 30 Rock, they aren’t too worried about it. NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker, who won wide praise for the company’s coverage of the Beijing Olympics, feels that there are plenty of advertisers ready to step in and replace any company that wants or needs to cut their spending on the sporting event.

When we asked Zucker about the Anheuser-Busch situation, he said, “The interest in the Olympics — because it’s such a unique event — has been extraordinary. Where certain companies decide it doesn’t work for them anymore, it provides an opportunity for their competitors to come in. That works out just fine for us.”

As for Hulu, which Disney joined yesterday, Zucker said he’s very happy with its progress, calling it the “preeminent site” for online videos. Even so, he’s not about to cannibalize either NBC Universal’s own TV networks or its website by handing over content like the Olympics. “I think the Olympics is something that’s pretty proprietary and is unique to our owned properties.

Oh, and don’t expect NBC Universal to become a big buyer of media properties even as valuations for some web properties have sunk like a stone. “We’ve been very proud of what we’ve grown organically here. Between Hulu and NBC.com and CNBC.com and MSNBC.com. Our digital strategy now is to enhance what we’ve grown here in the last 18 months.” In other words, focus on organic growth rather than acquisitions.

Keep an eye on:

  • Don’t sweat the recession and depressed DVD sales, because Hollywood might be headed for its best year ever at the box office (WSJ.com)
  • Is the Boston Globe about to be closed? It’s deadline day for the New York Times Co. (Reuters)
  • You could soon see prices dipping on some of the most popular Macs — a big change for Apple (AppleInsider)

(Photo: Reuters)

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