Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

NBC Droops, but Doesn’t Blame Its Woes on Jay or Conan

Assuming that Washington cooperates, GE (GE) will be able to hand off NBC Universal to Comcast (CMCSA) in a year or so. Until then, though, it must briefly acknowledge NBCU in every earnings report, even though investors have no interest in it.

Especially with numbers like these: GE says NBCU’s Q4 revenue dropped four percent, to¬†$4.3 billion, and operating profit declined 30 percent, to $602 million.

Were Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien’s ratings really that bad? Of course not.

NBC’s broadcast revenue was down 1.5 percent, but that was balanced by growth in the company’s cable properties, which were up eight percent. And not that I’m a Jeff Zucker apologist, but when pundits are castigating him for his late-night debacle, they really ought to point out that some parts of the company–the parts that Comcast wants, not coincidentally–have grown considerably during Zucker’s tenure.

In any case, GE blames this quarter’s decline on Hollywood: Its movie division has been low on box office hits, and its DVD group, like most other studios, has been sucking wind.

Here’s GE’s brief description of its business in charticle form (click to enlarge). Note the line about slow recovery in Web ads:

GE NBC U earns

And here’s the best “screw you, NBC” clip I’ve seen from Conan this week. Which, as many Web commenters have noted, is not available on NBC’s Web site or via Hulu. But given that NBC has been fairly vigilant about pulling down unauthorized clips it doesn’t want on Google’s (GOOG) YouTube, the network can’t be that upset about this one, which you can find all over the site: