Ratings Slump Dings NBC’s Q1 Performance | Adweek
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The 2013-14 Upfront

Ratings Slump Dings NBC’s Q1 Performance

Voice hiatus a drag on revenue

Comcast on Wednesday reported weak results at its NBC broadcast division, as a first-quarter ratings slump negatively impacted the unit’s financial performance.

NBC saw overall revenues drop 19 percent to $1.52 billion, down from $1.86 billion in Q1 2012. Excluding the $259 million windfall generated by Super Bowl XLVI ad sales, revenue fell 5 percent year over year.

Despite the looming upfront marketplace, Comcast failed to offer investors any insight into the Q2 scatter market and how NBC and its cable siblings (USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, et al) expected to fare in the springtime bazaar.

In a recent upfront preview, Barclays analyst Anthony DiClemente said he believed NBC would likely take in some $1.81 billion in advance commitments, flat versus its 2012-13 performance. The Barclays forecast put NBC at the low end of the broadcast market, with CPM increases likely to come in at around 5 percent.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke issued his standard disclaimer that the revitalization of the broadcast business wasn’t going to happen overnight, adding that NBC needs to come up with a few more hits if it is to further build on the success of The Voice.

“I think we’ve made good progress, primarily with The Voice,” Burke said. He added that while NBC was well aware that it would lose its momentum once The Voice went on hiatus, he was pleased to see that the show returned in March to even higher ratings.

NBC executives are currently screening pilots and will announce the network’s fall prime-time schedule during its May 13 upfront presentation in New York. Thus far, NBC officially has renewed five dramas.

“We really need to get one or two more good shows,” Burke said. “We are putting a tremendous amount of focus and concentration on building on the success we have had so far and developing shows that will continue that success next year.”

The cable networks enjoyed a stronger quarter, increasing overall revenue 5 percent to $2.23 billion. Ad sales revenue increased 3 percent, as price hikes were partially offset by lower ratings.

All told, NBCU’s Q1 revenue fell 2 percent to $5.34 billion. Excluding the Super Bowl comps, revenue for the quarter inched up 2 percent.

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