NBC Universal was created in 2004 from the acquisition of the Universal Studios movie and theme park business by television network NBC. For more than two decades, NBC had been a subsidiary of industrial giant General Electric, but disappointing performance by the merged business persuaded GE finally to cut its losses at the end of 2009. It agreed to transfer a controlling stake in the business to cable provider Comcast. That deal completed at the beginning of 2011, and Comcast bought out the remaining shares during 2013. NBC is still probably America's most celebrated television network but it rather lost its way between 2005 and 2014. Historically the #1 or #2 network by ratings as a result of such classic hit shows as 'Friends', 'Frasier', 'ER' and 'The West Wing', NBC struggled for years to find new series to replace those long-running audience favourites. There has been a striking return to form under Comcast's ownership, with NBC rebounding from bottom place among the Big Four networks to #1 in the highly prized 18-49 adult demographic. It lost that position back to Fox in 2019/20, but remained #2 in total viewers with an average 6.5m primetime viewers. 'Sunday Night Football' was once again the country's most watched regular show, with an average of almost 20.0m total viewers. (Sports is NBC's particular speciality: it also has exclusive live rights to the Olympics through 2032). Among the main broadcast networks NBC is also the leader by ratings in news coverage, with shows such as Today, Meet The Press and the Nightly News. Other top shows for the most recent season were the trio of 'Chicago Fire' (11.7m viewers), 'Chicago PD' (11.2m) and 'Chicago Med' (11.2m), 'This Is Us' (11.5m) and 'The Voice' (10.4m). NBC Universal also controls Hispanic broadcast network Telemundo, as well as a large collection of cable strands including USA Network, CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, Syfy, Oxygen and E! The division is set to launch its own OTT streaming service Peacock (after the famous NBC brand mascot) in 2020. It retains a 33% stake in the Hulu streaming service for the time being, but transferred full management control to Disney in 2019. Former Comcast COO Stephen Burke is CEO of NBC Universal. The business reported divisional revenues of $34.0bn in 2019, down slightly year on year (the previous year benefited from the 2018 Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl). EBITDA was $8.8bn. Cable Networks contributed the largest share of revenues - $11.5bn - with $10.3bn from broadcast networks.
Capsule checked 26th November 2019
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Historical profile information for NBC Universal
Adbrands Daily Update 22nd May 2020: Helped by Super Bowl and break-out entertainment hit 'The Masked Singer', Fox delivered its best network performance since 2012 in the US TV season ended May. It reclaimed the position of top network for viewers in the most valuable 18-49 demographic for the first time in eight long years, with an average of almost 2.2m primetime viewers. CBS retained its position as the most-watched channel by total viewers at 7.6m, more than 1m clear of second-placed NBC. Fox was 3rd for total viewers ahead of ABC. The most watched regular programme overall among total viewers was NBC's 'Sunday Night Football' with an average 20m viewers. CBS's long-running 'NCIS' drama franchise - now in its 17th year - was the #2 show at 15.3m viewers.
Adbrands Daily Update 25th Mar 2020: Every day under Coronavirus detonates new bombs for the global marketing and media industry. One of this week's biggest is the official postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for at least a year. That has devastating implications for Japan, of course, but also for all the Games' sponsors and for the broadcasters who have spent at least two years preparing for this major media event. Two of the most badly affected are NBC Universal which has broadcast rights for the US, and Discovery Inc's Eurosport which acquired rights for much of continental Europe. NBC has already sold a record $1.25bn of advertising inventory around the Games and must now find a way of managing the resulting hole in its budgets. Discovery faces a similar scramble. In a statement, NBC said the company "is actively working with our advertising partners to navigate this postponement, and we're exploring all options to best serve their brands and our consumers this year, and into 2021." The latest suspension comes in the wake of the cancellation of all US sports leagues, which have regularly provided NBC with the year's top-rated programming.
Adbrands Daily Update 16th Mar 2020: The repercussions from Coronavirus aren't just affecting retail outlets and public places. Netflix was one of several entertainment companies to halt TV production. All Netflix shows being filmed in the US and Canada are being suspended for at least two weeks, affecting dozens of different productions. Warner Bros TV Studios similarly is halting production on some 70 series, while NBC has hit pause on at least 35 shows. Movie theatres are also expected to close their doors, and several big releases have already rescheduled for later in the year.
Adbrands Daily Update 22nd May 2019: CBS was once again America's most watched broadcaster by prime time viewers, its 11th consecutive #1 position, and had the top three scripted shows. 'Big Bang Theory' was - for the last time ever - the country's #1 most watched scripted show, with an average of 17.3m viewers. 'NCIS' and 'Big Bang' spin-off 'Young Sheldon' were the #2 and #3 shows respectively. However, total numbers continued to slide: CBS averaged a total of 8.9m viewers nightly for the season ending this week, down from 9.0m last year and 9.6m the year before. Indeed, all networks except Fox reported year-on-year declines. NBC was the #2 network overall (7.2m viewers), and led the prized 18-49 demographic for the 3rd straight year. Its 'Sunday Night Football' was the country's single most watched regular show at 19.3m viewers. ABC and Fox were in 3rd and 4th place again by total viewers; Fox tied CBS for the #2 position in 18-49ers.
Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jan 2019: After prolonged contractual negotiations lasting more than two months, NBC finally confirmed the departure of celebrity anchor Megyn Kelly from the network almost a year and a half before expiry of her contract. As a result, NBC agreed to pay the entire outstanding balance, a sum of around $30m.
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