“We are way ahead of where we thought we would be,” NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke told analysts this morning in a call to discuss Comcast earnings. London will break even and “given the trends, we stand to make money on future Olympics….All of the numbers are significantly better than we projected in our deal” to buy NBCU, he says. When Comcast was contemplating its acquisition of NBCU it saw that “every 2 years NBCU was losing a lot of money on the Olympics.” It also considered the strong results from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing to be uncharacteristic due to the excitement over swimmer Michael Phelps’ success. For London “we budgeted closer to (the 2004 Summer Olympics in) Athens than to Beijing” with a possible loss of $200M. But instead of seeing the first five days’ ratings down 20% vs Beijing the numbers from London are running 9% ahead. “Really, a ratings success pretty much across the board,” Burke says. In addition “for the first time we have a strategy that embraces broadcast, digital, and cable.” The company’s efforts to showcase its news properties and NBC Sports Channel mean “it’s clearly something that’s going to benefit our company very broadly….Long term we’re delighted to have the asset.”
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