London 2012: CEO Says NBCUniversal Will Break Even on Olympics

London Olympics Logo NEW - P 2012

London Olympics Logo NEW - P 2012

Steve Burke says his team had at one point forecast as much as a $200 million loss from this year's Summer Games, with future Olympics now possibly set to make the company money.

NBCUniversal is ahead of its financial and ratings forecasts for the London 2012 Summer Olympics, CEO Steve Burke said Wednesday.

Given trends so far, "London is going to be right around break-even," he said, acknowledging that his team had at one point forecast as much as a $200 million loss for these Games. "We are way ahead." Given current trends, "we stand to make money on future Olympics," he said.

During an earnings conference call, Burke also said: "We are off to a very very successful start," emphasizing that the company is "over $100 million" ahead of its advertising revenue goal right now. "Ratings are way up from our forecast."

He said that his team had thought that the Beijing 2008 was "an atypical watermark," which led them to budget London for a performance closer to Athens 2004.

Over the first days of the Games though, the company is seeing ratings up by 9 percent, instead of its forecast for a 20 percent decline, Burke said. "We are up 26 percent versus Athens and 30 percent ahead of our estimate."

Why the success? The CEO said he thinks the promotion of the Games across Comcast and NBCUniversal over the 100 days leading up to them and the embrace of content offerings across broadcast, cable and digital platforms have helped.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts also touted the Olympics success without addressing some complaints about a lack of TV live coverage. "We're off to a fantastic start with the Olympics," he said. "Viewers have more choices than ever." He said the company is seeing record ratings and reach on all channels, mobile devices and digital platforms.

Concluded Roberts: "I'm thrilled so far."

Burke, Roberts and Comcast Cable head Neil Smit called in from London. Roberts said being away from the U.S. and at the Olympics further enhanced his bullishness about NBCUniversal. "Being here in London, I feel even better about the future of our company," he said.