NEW YORK NBC Universal’s second-quarter earnings plummeted 41 percent to $539 million as revenue fell 8 percent to $3.57 billion. Adjusted earnings, which included a $95 million writedown of NBCU’s minority stake in Ion Media Networks and a one-time asset impairment charge of $8 million, were down 24 percent for the quarter.
Looking ahead at the second half of 2009, NBCU parent company GE projects the media conglomerate will see flat earnings vs. the prior-year period. Broadcast revenue is expected to drop by 9 percent in the period as the local ad market continues to falter.
GE chief financial officer Keith Sherin on Friday told investors that the upfront has been “very slow,” adding that NBC will “retain more inventory” than usual, holding out hope for a strong scatter market.
Typically, the networks sell between 75 percent and 80 percent of their prime-time inventory during the upfront, but contracting viewership, a wobbly advertising market and the recession have put a squeeze on CPMs. As such, the Big Four are expected to hold back as much as 30 percent of their inventory this year.
Shares of GE were down 6.46 percent, or 80 cents, to $11.60 in early-afternoon trading. Since hitting an 18-year low in March at $5.73, shares have rebounded by nearly 80 percent.
Overall, GE’s second-quarter revenue fell 17 percent to $39.1 billion.