Can NBCUniversal Help Comcast Weather the Cord-Cutters?
Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) was going against the grain when it decided to purchase NBCUniversal, a $30 billion deal completed in March. The prevailing trend with media companies in recent years has been to split off assets rather than make acquisitions, with Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) selling off its cable operations and Viacom Inc. (NYSE:VIA) separating its CBS (NYSE:CBS) television ventures and radio companies.
But NBCUniversal, under the helm of CEO Steve Burke, has thus far helped the company weather a new generation of cord-cutters who opt for cheaper online services like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) rather than traditional cable. Burke, who was recently profiled in The Wall Street Journal, is the competitive but media-shy leader who pulled off the massive deal.
Burke has been working to combine the two companies’ wide-spread assets to create what the Journal called an “uber platform” involving TV, movies, theme parks, and video games. In particular, he has focused on making NBC a go-to network for sports fans.
He has poured $12 billion into sports broadcasting, which includes a deal for NBC to broadcast the Olympics from 2014 to 2020, in addition to the $4.2 billion he spent to pry Nascar out of Walt Disney Co.-owned (NYSE:DIS) ESPN’s grasp. Sports is something Burke sees as worthy of a big investment, according to the Journal.