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Comcast’s NBC Affiliates See Big Revenue Decline in Q1

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Comcast reported its NBC-owned television stations, like WTVJ, had a whopping 18.5% revenue decline in the first quarter of 2013 compared to Q1 2012. Contrast that with WPLG parent company Post-Newsweek reporting today a 5% Q1 revenue increase, and Fisher Communications in Seattle, reporting 12% increase. Comcast blame the decline on NBC’s low ratings, which placed the network in 5th place behind Univision and even the CW on some nights. So do not be surprised if you hear NBC wants to increase the monthly fee on cable and satellite TV subscribers.

And it gets even worse. 60,000 households became cord cutters – the ones that quit cable TV altogether. That is 62% worse than first quarter of 2012. Put another way, the pace of people cutting their pay TV subscribtions may be accelerating. Perhaps this explains the persistent calls I got two weeks ago when we canceled our Comcast TV service.

Comcast reported an overall increase in earnings of 17.4% to $1.44 billion, but that’s only because cable bills for 72% of its subscribers have gone up.

GE are looking at this news and probably laughing they finally got rid of NBC before it got worse.

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  1. GE has its own issues to focus on. 1Q revenues at GE were flat. GE stock price since Jeff Immelt took over has dropped 43%. The decimation of NBC happened under GE’s watch.

    I’m not a fan of Comcast, but the primary reason for the drop in 1Q NBC revenue was due to having the Super Bowl included in 1Q 2012 revenue, but not in 1Q 2013 revenue, because this year’s Super Bowl was on CBS. Excluding the Super Bowl revenue, NBC 1Q revenues dropped 5.3%, due to lower prime time network ratings and lower content licensing revenue. They have to get NBC turned around.

    The drop in Comcast video subscribers was more than offset by increases in internet and voice subscribers and subscribers of the triple-play services. Cable segment 1Q operating cash flow was up 6.7%, NBC Universal segment 1Q operating cash flow was up 17.2% and overall 1Q operating cash flow was up 7.4%.

    • So NBC needs a Superbowl to keep from hemorhaging revenues even worse? Not a good sign.

      However you look at it other groups are reporting, sometimes, huge increases. I don’t even know if NBC has a #1 O&O station anywhere, I’d venture a guess and say no. WNBC itself has been on the decline, as have local news ratings in general. The network shows are complete and utter shit. The whole network is simply unwatchable apparently to a lot of people.

      Comcast’s revenue increases are due to the higher bills of their customers, not really an indication of a thriving business. My off promo Comcast service was ~$140 which I promptly killed until they made an effort to keep me.

      And it’s still very bad news for cable TV. People are cuting the cord. Which means less retrans fees for affiliates and cable channels. I know if I didn’t live with someone who required sports entertainment I won’t be paying for television anymore, it’s just not something I need.

      The mere fact that we’ve added close to a million households in 2012 and yet there’s barely an uptick in cable TV and satellite subs growth is enough to see where things are headed

      • The Super Bowl broadcast each year is usually the most watched TV show of the year and about 100 million viewers watch it each year. Last year’s Super Bowl broadcast on NBC was the most watched TV show in U.S. history, with 111 million viewers. So yes, having the Super Bowl broadcast on NBC in 1Q 2012 and not having it on NBC in 1Q 2013 was the primary reason for the drop in 1Q revenues over last year. It is the same situation that film companies go through when they have a blockbuster film released in the prior year and no comparable blockbuster released in the current year. CBS will have the same problem of having no Super Bowl next year when it reports 1Q 2014 earnings. Excluding the effect of the Super Bowl, NBC’s revenues were down 5.3%. Down 5.3% is not “hemorrhaging”. Its prime time programming stinks and needs to be improved; I agree with you on that. I think the only NBC shows in the top 10 ratings are The Voice and Sunday Night Football. NBC is still competitive in in the ratings in early morning, network news and in late night.

        As far as Comcast cable segment results, they lost 60,000 video only subscribers on a base of 22,294,000 video only subscribers in 1Q 2012; that’s a loss of 0.3% of subscribers. It was more than made up by adding 433,000 broadband internet customers, 211,000 voice customers, resulting in a net increase in subscribers of 583,000. There’s no question that some people are choosing to drop cable either because they can’t afford it, don’t want it or are getting entertainment programs through the internet or switching to U-verse or satellite. It’s a very competitive environment. I recently negotiated a big reduction in my rates when my annual contract was up.

  2. Gotta agree with you bossman, the two only shows that I from NBC is revolution and the voice. And. The voice is the only thing I watch on my dvr, revolution is watched thru Hulu. I refuse to watch today, and the whole jay Leno thing to me is just plain moronic. Oh well.

  3. transitfan on

    Comcast is a disaster that needs to disappear. I finally got rid of them earlier this year (the place where I moved fired their ass LOL

  4. I can’t imagine this whole Comcast/NBC thing is going to last too long. Remember what happened to AOL/Time Warner? Sometimes these marriages do not work out for the best.

    A telltale sign of mismanagement: AT&T uverse now sponsors the NBC-6 Sports Desk (which was once the xfinity Sports Desk). Let’s not forget that Comcast owns NBC; NBC owns WTVJ/NBC-6; therefore, Comcast owns WTVJ/NBC-6. Now how exactly does that make sense??? That’s equivalent to allowing Wal-Mart to run ads on the carts at Publix. A company that goes in with an eight month (give or take) arrangement for xfinity for the sports desk, only to lose it to AT&T uverse, CLEARLY does not deserve to do well in the ratings.

    Time for a new look at the entire peacock – from the Today Show to the Tonight Show and EVERYTHING in between.

    • it’s simply who paid the most money. AT&T is a big advertiser they have to be accommodated, plus Comcast wouldn’t want to drop too much evidence it acts anti-competitively

      • I guess a better way of looking at it is to ask if it really makes sense for a cable company to own a broadcast network? Is say no – and this is just one example.

        • It used to be against FCC rules to own cable tv franchises and TV stations in the same market. All those rules against cross ownership and limits on TV station ownership have been relaxed, resulting in a handful of huge media companies dominating.

          • things would eventually work themselves out. Aereo has brought up the question whether the big 4 networks will continue to operate as they do now though. Some or all may go cable-only, but at exactly the wrong time.

            The first steps toward a la carte channels are being taken. Verizon is very publicly annoyed at having to pay for channels people do not watch, and just recently introduced a TV tier without sports channels. Then there is Cablevision suing Viacom over forced channel bundling. Cablevision is the one who won the network DVR case which paved the way for Aereo to show up. If they were to win this case we may really see true a la carte or something close to it – which would nuke the sweet retrans fee gravy train the networks are riding right now.

  5. Disney reported that ABC broadcasting division revenues dropped 2% in the first quarter and operating profits dropped 40%.

    Broadcasting
    Operating income at Broadcasting decreased $91 million to $138 million for the quarter due to higher
    primetime programming costs and a decrease in advertising revenue at the ABC Television Network,
    partially offset by an increase in advertising revenue at the owned television stations. Higher primetime
    programming costs were driven by increased production cost write-offs and higher cost acquired
    programming. The decrease in network advertising revenue was primarily due to lower ratings, partially
    offset by higher rates and increased online advertising.

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