Comcast reworking of NBCU still in early stages (audio)


NBCUniversal was a contributor to Q4 growth for Comcast, but company officials are making it clear that much remains to be done at NBCU. The early focus has been on integrating the two companies, with a new management structure at NBCU, headed by Comcast veteran Steve Burke (pictured) as CEO, merging the former Comcast cable nets into NBCU and trying to jump-start the ratings engine at NBC.

In the company’s conference call with Wall Street analysts, Burke was asked about the growth opportunities. He said they’re not limited to turning around the Peacock Network, although he did have lots to say about NBC.

Steve Burke:

Comcast executives were also asked about their thinking on buying out the minority stake in NBCU still held by General Electric when that becomes a possibility under the contract in 2014.

“We’re still pretty early days into this. We’ve owned NBCUniversal now for just over a year. We have really two and a half years left before we have those discussions. Obviously we’ll learn a lot more then,” said Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis. “We gave a lot of thought to how we structured the transaction with GE. We wanted to make sure that we would retain that flexibility on the capital structure – wanted to be sure to retain our flexibility on our return on capital…I think we are very pleased with how NBCUniversal is performing and also the structure that we put in place with GE. So I really wouldn’t want to front-run that. I think that we’ll make a decision in a couple of years, in two and a half years, and then we’ll revisit it then and then we’ll revisit it again in six years. So there’s a long road here for us,” he added.