NBCU's Burke: DVRs, Time-Shifting Have Most Impact On Linear TV

LAS VEGAS -- Stephen Burke, chief executive officer of NBCUniversal, worries about the future of cable networks that air heavy schedules of rerun programming.

Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show here on Thursday, Burke said: “If you carry a show on cable that’s a rerun, it’s hard to maintain the same ratings” when you have many other media content choices.

Burke has been surprised by the substantial declines in cable network viewership over the past couple of years. He believes that cable ratings were going to be stronger than they were. "Cable entertainment ratings are weaker than they were just two or three years ago, and that’s because all the alternatives are getting better and better," he says.

What about the strength of Netflix, which has been providing many of those alternatives for traditional TV viewers?

Burke says: "Netflix has created a wonderful business and a great delivery mechanism... [but] time-shifting and DVRs are more impactful." He believes NBCUniversal's investments in BuzzFeed and Vox Media help the company to think more entrepreneurial and in different directions -- especially with the influx of young producing/editorial talent.

For example, he believes BuzzFeed -- which will be sending producers to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro later this year -- will get Millennial viewers thinking differently about big TV sporting events.

Tags: cable tv, tv
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1 comment about "NBCU's Burke: DVRs, Time-Shifting Have Most Impact On Linear TV ".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 8, 2016 at 12:05 p.m.

    So the problem for cable programmers who rely a lot on off-network reruns is time shifting? Or is it that there is such a lot of good stuff out there to watch? Or is it competition from Netflix, Amazon, etc? Or, maybe it's problems with the rating studies? Odd, since most time shifting---according to Nielsen---takes place for primetime network shows, plus some original fare put out by the cable channels, but not neccessarily for off-network programs. Or maybe I'm misinformed.