NBC Universal Will Have Patience -- For Some Things
Patience is a virtue -- except when you run a major broadcast network.
Dave Cassaro is out as head of advertising sales for NBC Universal cable networks and Linda Yaccarino is in as senior executive of advertising sales -- perhaps in charge of all broadcast and cable ad sales operations.
NBC isn't commenting just yet -- but an announcement is probably coming soon.
Still, it's head-scratching time: Didn't Cassaro get through his first NBCU upfront -- to record results -- following the finally completed Comcast takeover of NBC a few months before? Yaccarino, according to reports, also had been doing well leading all entertainment advertising for Turner Broadcasting cable platforms.
You can understand that a big media merger such as this takes some digestion. But there still seems to be some gnashing of teeth. Is patience wearing thin? Or is there some fat around to chew on?
Just look at NBC's ratings – with the exception of the high ratings for "Sunday Night Football." After five weeks of the new season, NBC has just one show averaging over a 3 rating among 18-49 viewers: "The Office." Everything else is suffering. The new stuff? That doesn't look well either.
Early in the merger process, senior Comcast leaders, including Steve Burke, now chief executive officer of NBC Universal, said it could be years before the network got back on its feet. That would mean patience. But this seems lacking in some areas -- which makes sense in a world where quarter-to-quarter financial results are under increasing scrutiny.
Sure there were major changes. Early on -- just after the merger was completed -- NBC primetime entertainment shifted out its most senior marketing executive -- in search of a better message. I guess that's normal collateral damage when you have a deeply seated fourth place network. But then Dick Ebersol left as chairman of NBC Sports -- after starting NBC Sports Group. And he later came back as a consultant.
In the fast-moving digital video world, especially where premium TV programs command big value, NBC could be behind the eight ball -- not just on traditional TV screens, but the new screens as well. One major condition of Comcast's deal for NBC was that it would have no management say in the direction of the likes of Hulu.
After deciding to keep broadcast and cable adsales operations separate for only a few months -- with Cassaro running cable and Marianne Gambelli running network -- now NBC apparently wants one person, Yaccarino, to guide the whole she-bang, no doubt to squeeze few more dollars out of advertisers’ hands.
NBC is already down a big 16% in 18-49 viewership for this season’s non-sports entertainment primetime programming. We are only in October. Better news should come, starting in February, with the second season of NBC's "The Voice," which debuted last spring to big numbers.
Personalty conflicts? Changes in the corporate offices? Everyone has an opinion about what goes on.
Question is: Does NBC need patience with programming, marketing, the performance of its executives, profitability, revenue expectation, management structure or something else?
A suffering network means anything can change at any time. No waiting required.