NBC's stable financial gains over the past few periods come from its assortment of cable networks, which witnessed operating profit climb 23% on a revenue increase of 14% this current period. News channels MSNBC and CNBC saw double-digit ratings increases. At its film division, Universal Studios, revenue rose 16% from theatrical films and DVD releases.
GE executives noted that lower programming costs for NBC, given the writers' strike, have helped the TV network's financial situation. Keith Sherin, GE's chief financial officer, said the two-month strike has had "no noticeable impact."
NBC Universal's TV network NBC has seen viewership decline by 8% when looking at commercial ratings plus three days of DVR usage--but almost double that when looking at live program ratings.
Still, Jeff Immelt, chief executive officer at GE, said two high-viewing and low-cost new reality shows "The Celebrity Apprentice" with Donald Trump and the athletic competition show "American Gladiators" have helped NBC maintain a good financial picture.
"We are pleasantly surprised by how well reality programming has done," said Immelt. "It gives us more confidence in the financial strength for NBCU."
GE expects first-quarter profit at NBC Universal to grow at about the same level as the fourth quarter, around 5% to 10%.