NBC U’s chatty Jeff Zucker stops en route to Davos and announces that his studio broadcast network is going to stop paying for “pilots” — expensive test episodes the network commissions before it actually orders a new TV series. He also paints a much darker picture of his business, and the economy, than his boss, GE CEO Jeff Immelt did last week. NYT:
“It’s clear we are in a recession in the United States, and we’re going to have to manage our business accordingly,” he said…”Sometimes you see the world from a different perspective when you’re flat on your back,” he said. “At NBC Entertainment we’ve been flat on our backs for the last few years.”
Compare that with GE’s description of its business during its most recent earnings call:
“NBC Universal delivered 10% segment profit growth in the quarter for its fifth straight quarter of profit growth,” Immelt said. “Film had its best year ever, with strong global growth. Entertainment and Information Cable had record ratings and solid earnings growth. The network continues to improve its programming and cost position.”
So which version do you want to believe? We assume the truth is somewhere in the middle, and that the message clash has to do with the intended audiences: Immelt is talking to investors, for whom NBC is just a small piece of GE, while Zucker is directing his comments at Hollywood and Hollywood writers.
We’re also not so sure that Zucker’s no-pilot decree is a long-term change — it’s easy to say you’re not going to order pilots when there’s no one to write them. But we wonder what happens next year, when the strike is long resolved.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.