Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Happy Days Aren’t Here Again: Another Miserable Quarter for NBC

zuckerYesterday, Google (GOOG) told Wall Street that its business had “stabilized” during the spring, but it may be one of the only media companies that gets to say that.

GE’s (GE) NBC Universal, for instance, just posted second-quarter results that were as bad as its first quarter. Jeff Zucker’s TV and movie unit said revenue was down eight percent and profit down 41 percent for the three months ending June 30; in the previous quarter, revenue was down only two percent, while profit was down 43 percent.

Per usual, GE said NBC’s cable business was doing okay (which makes sense since it gets a guaranteed income stream from cable operators), but that its overall ad business and local TV markets were getting killed. Or in technical terms, they’re seeing “continued pressure.”

Three months ago, GE went out of its way to make the point that if you stripped out one-time charges like write-downs, its earnings drop would have only been in the 15-25 percent range. It may make the same argument again during the earnings call later this morning, so I’ll check back then.

UPDATE: Once again, NBC is arguing that its earnings aren’t that terrible. The company had to take nearly $100 million in charges this quarter, and last year it had some one-time gains. So really, the company argues, its earnings are down a mere 24 percent. Here’s the highlight reel from the earnings call. Note the lines about upfront sales being slow and Web display ads being hit. Click chart to enlarge.

nbc-earnings


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald