Comcast Signs Steve Burke to a Four-Year Contract Extension

NBCUniversal boss to remain at the helm through August 2018

Comcast has extended NBCUniversal president and CEO Steve Burke’s contract through August 2018.

Per terms of the new contract, which was made public in an August 16 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Burke’s base salary will be increased to $2.6 million per year, effective next month. This marks an 18 percent increase from the $2.24 million salary Burke earned under his earlier contract.

Burke’s previous contract with Comcast/NBCU had been set to expire at the end of 2014.

In addition to the little something extra in his paycheck, Burke also will receive a performance-based bonus in the amount of $5 million. According to the language of the 8-K filing, the bonus was granted as “an inducement for Mr. Burke to extend the term of his existing employment agreement, and on account of Mr. Burke’s outstanding work in integrating NBCUniversal and its businesses into Comcast.”

Comcast also formally credited Burke with “making extraordinary progress in improving [NBCU’s] businesses and results.”

The bonus is contingent on Burke’s remaining with Comcast/NBCU through next June. There is also a financial benchmark to clear—Comcast’s operating cash flow for the 12-month period ending June 2014 must be at least 101 percent the volume of the year-ago period.

Burke’s annual cash bonus opportunity remains at 300 percent his base salary. The executive’s total compensation package in 2012 added up to $26.3 million, up from $23.7 million the previous year. Per an earlier SEC filing, Burke’s 2012 windfall included his $2.24 million salary, as well as $7.23 million in non-equity compensation, $5.27 million in deferred compensation earning/change in pension value, $4.3 million in stock awards, $4.71 million in option awards and $2.58 million in other compensation.

The 55-year-old Burke (his birthday was on Wednesday) joined the Comcast family in 1998 as president of cable operations. In September 2010, Comcast named Burke to replace the departing Jeff Zucker as the head of NBCU upon completion of the merger. At the time, Burke was chief operating officer of the cable company. 

A year ago, Burke told investors that while he was encouraged by NBCU’s prospects, the broadcast business had “a long, long way to go” before it could be said to be running on all cylinders. A month earlier, Burke estimated that each of NBC’s broadcast rivals was generating between $750 million and $1.5 billion more revenue than the Peacock.

During Comcast’s third-quarter 2012 earnings call, Burke allowed that “broadcast profitability could be dramatically higher than it is currently…and hopefully we are going in the right direction on that.”

More recently, Burke revealed that he was encouraged by efforts to fatten CPMs at NBC and USA Network. Last month, the NBCU boss said that the broadcaster had sold 13 percent more upfront inventory than it did a year ago.

Among the NBC shows that were in high demand during the 2013-14 bazaar were: Revolution, The Voice and newcomers The Blacklist and The Michael J. Fox Show. NBC also boasts the 800-lb gorilla that is Sunday Night Football.