NBC Universal profits down 45%

20 April 2009

NEW YORK: NBC Universal saw its profits fall by 45% to $391 million (€301m; £267m) in the first quarter, with chief executive Jeff Zucker writing in a memo to staff that "a weaker advertising market and slower consumer demand," along with one-off costs, all contributed to the decline.

NBC broadcast both the Super Bowl and the Olympics last year, with the latter being compared to a "billion-dollar research lab" into understanding modern consumer behaviour.

The company's total revenues declined by 2% on an annual basis in Q1 2009 to $3.52bn, with profits also down from $712m in the year-ago period.

Zucker argued the current climate amounted to "tougher times than any of us has experienced," and predicted that NBC would have to "fight strong economic headwinds for a while."

He also stated that without "one-off" costs, its profits would have fallen by just 15% during the first quarter as a whole.

These costs included a $45m fee to broadcast the Super Bowl, as well as a writedown in the value of its local TV unit ION Media, and increased film development costs.

He also praised the "incredible strength" of the company's cable TV operations, which now account for 60% of NBC's operating profit, and are continuing to perform at "record-setting levels."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/Reuters; additional content by WARC staff