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Analyst: NBC Network Is Worth 'Negative $600 Million'

USA’s estimated value: $11.7 billion.

NEW YORK -- USA Network is the most valuable part of NBC Universal at $11.7 billion, but the NBC network is worth a negative $600 million, according to Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan. He also puts the value of the Universal studio arm at about $4 billion.

Harrigan listed the valuation estimates in a research note on Monday following Friday's news that Jeff Zucker will leave his role as CEO of NBC Universal to Comcast COO Steve Burke after the cable giant acquires the entertainment firm.

"Burke appears likely to focus on revitalizing the NBC network and addressing digital media and subscription model initiatives," Harrigan wrote. "In the interim, Universal head Ron Meyer is apt to remain in position even with uneven market share and financial performance at the Studio," which he doesn't expect to be a near-term priority for Burke. "The NBC Network is simply more important perceptually and from a pop culture vantage point."

According to the analyst, the NBC Universal cable networks make up 78% of NBC Universal's valuation. Thanks to the stronger-than-anticipated recovery in the advertising market, the total company is likely worth slightly more than $32.5 billion, he said. In the Comcast deal, NBC Universal was value at $30 billion.

The negative $600 million value for NBC comes "as it remains a capital call for programming development as long as it remains mired in the #4 network position" in primetime, Harrigan said. An NBC official highlighted that the network pretty much tied ABC for the third and fourth spots in the 18-49 year old demo for the most recent TV season. And he pointed out that NBC ranked second as recently as the 2007-2008 season.

Harrigan's valuation on Walt Disney's ABC network is a positive $1.2 billion in comparison with NBC's negative value. He told The Hollywood Reporter that he doesn't have current valuations for other broadcast networks, but believes NBC's value is the weakest among its peers.

Asked by THR about his proposed solution for fixing NBC, Harrigan said "NBC has to regain its high-end aura."

Thanks to the NBC and Telemundo stations that NBC Universal owns and NBC Universal TV, the value of NBC Universal's overall broadcast division stands at $3.5 billion though, according to the analyst.

The studio's $4 billion and theme park unit's $1.4 billion combine into a total $5.4 billion studio and parks business, according to his estimates.

But both are dwarfed by Harrigan's $32.7 billion valuation for the NBC Universal cable networks, including nearly $6.3 billion for Syfy, $3.9 billion for CNBC, $2.8 billion for MSNBC and $2.6 billion for Bravo.

Harrigan's total adds up to $41.6 billion, from which he subtracts nearly $9.1 billion in corporate and capital expenditures to arrive at a valuation of a bit more than $32.5 billion.

Adding in the $6 billion value of Comcast's cable networks, the combined NBC Universal-Comcast joint venture will be worth $38.6 billion before $9.1 billion of debt, or $29.5 billion when accounting for that debt, Harrigan said. That would put the value of Comcast's 51% stake at around $15 billion.