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NBCUniversal CEO: Broadcast Network Needs 'Some More Shows' for Turnaround

The Voice 4/8 Michelle Raitzin - P 2013
NBC

"We made good progress in the first two years" of Comcast's ownership, says Steve Burke, reiterating it could take up to five years to get "real momentum" at NBC.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke on Wednesday reiterated that the financial turnaround of the NBC broadcast network would take more time, emphasizing that his team is focusing on developing more hit shows beyond The Voice.

 

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During NBCUniversal owner's Comcast first-quarter earnings conference call, he reiterated that the company had said two years ago when it bought a controlling stake in the entertainment giant that it would take three to five years to develop "real momentum" at the broadcast network.

"I think we made good progress in the first two years, primarily with The Voice," Burke said. NBC had "real momentum" in the ratings in the fall, but knew it would lose it without the singing competition, which then returned in the spring with higher ratings.

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While a few other shows have been showing "glimmers of hope," he said "we really need to get one or two more good shows." Said Burke: "We do need some more shows," which is a focus for him and his executives. He added that he is currently in LA as his team has been working on pilots. "we are putting a tremendous amount of focus and concentration on building on the success we have had so far and developing shows that will continue that success next year."

Overall, "we are making progress," he concluded, highlighting that NBC was in fourth place for a number of years before coming in third last year, primarily due to the Super Bowl. "This year, it looks like we are headed for a strong third place."

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts also said on the call that after the recent buyout of General Electric's minority stake in NBCUniversal, "we feel really good about that decision."

NBCUniversal early on Wednesday posted first-quarter operating cash flow of $953 million, up 17 percent. Revenue came in at $5.34 billion, down 2.4 percent, or up by that percentage when adjusting for last year's Super Bowl revenue of $259 million.

Asked about the Universal film business, Burke said it has done better over the past nine months. "It really comes down to [the fact that] we have had a very good run of films" and a good selection of movies. "We are more focused on sequels and more internationally focused" on international home entertainment joint ventures, which have helped control costs. 

He also touted the upcoming releases of Despicable Me 2 and Fast & Furious 6.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai