There are all kinds of one-offy things in GE’s earnings report that could explain the dreadful quarter its NBC Universal unit had: Not enough big movies to spike DVD sales, big Super Bowl costs that not even high ratings could offset, and oh, management doesn’t quite know what to do with its major network.
Wait. That’s not a one-off.
Admittedly, Jeff Zucker’s crew has ridden well Bravo, CNBC and its other cable assets for a few years. And Hulu is growing nicely, for now. But if GE’s other businesses don’t pick up, will the Six Sigma boys continue to carry Zucker and the operation if it doesn’t start to mint money?
•NBCU’s profit fell 45%, though it made $391 million of $3.5 billion in revenues.
•Theme parks were slipping as consumers pulled back spending.
•The ad market is a nightmare.
•The main network seems rudderless and is moving its best asset’s time slot.
NBC will be able to bounce back if its flagship (and fourth-place) network gets its footing back. It depends on Jay Leno’s risky move to 10 p.m., Conan O’Brien’s ability to woo defectors from Colbert Nation, and a slate of new shows.Then, the economy has to recover.
The network’s boss Ben Silverman has been a disaster. New York last week did a tally of his track record: Of the 23 series created after Silverman took command of NBC in May 2007, 15 have been canceled, 5 are on life-support and 3 are still going.
If a stunning move that shows how weak Silverman is right now, NBC brought back Angela Bromstad, an executive who left the company after losing a power struggle a few years back. She’s been busy, according to the Los Angeles Times, but is she enough to fix things?
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