NBC Universal had a difficult last three months of 2009 -- with profits sinking 30% to $602 million. NBC also witnessed revenue slipping 4% to $4.3 billion.
Much of the drop came from Universal Pictures, with few high-performing theatrical movies and fewer DVDs sales -- some 12 million units from "Inglorious Bastards" and "Public Enemy," versus 33 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, which had "Mamma Mia," "Hulk" and "Wanted."
Operating profit at Universal dropped $200 million with revenue sinking by more than $400 million to $1.2 billion. Also contributing to declines was higher TV rights fees for NFL football.
The television businesses, by comparison, did much better. Its broadcast businesses were down 2% to $1.6 billion in revenue. But its cable networks continue to climb -- up 8% to $1.3 billion in revenue; net profit was also up 8%.
Bright spots include the current TV ad market. Sherin noted that NBC networks has seen double-digit-percent increases on the cost-per-thousand viewers prices (CPMs) in the fourth quarter versus upfront deals made in the summer, and 20% higher in the first quarter.
He added that cable rates were up 30% in the fourth and first quarters. USA Network, Syfy, Oxygen, and Bravo got the benefit here.
Keith Sherin, vice chairman/CFO of General Electric, now expects NBC to lose some $250 million on the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Earlier company estimates peg the losses from the games to be around $200 million. This projection comes despite the fact that NBC's ad revenue will be exceeded by $25 to $50 million over its previous estimates.
General Electric says it continues to work with regulatory agencies to complete its joint venture of NBC Universal, which will give Comcast Corp., a majority control of the media company.