“Monetization gap” is the clunky term NBCU chief Steve Burke frequently uses when he laments the low ad rates his company commands after years of flailing in the TV ratings wars. But with NBC poised to end the prime time season No. 1 in its target 18-to-49 demo, he tells analysts today that he’s going into the upfront sales market “with our best position in a decade” and “it’s going to be worth a lot.” He knows better than to offer specific numbers, but notes that “we can’t find any network that’s swung as much in a year.” CFO Michael Angelakis also said that this will be “a very meaningful correction year.” This was one reason CEO Brian Roberts says NBCU “has real momentum and we believe this is sustainable throughout 2014.”
On the $45B plan to buy Time Warner Cable, Angelakis confirmed his early hints that Comcast will add $2.5B to its stock repurchase plan — bringing its total to $5.5B for 2014 — when TWC shareholders approve the deal. He declined to comment on news reports, which he dismissed as “rumors,” about Comcast’s plan to offer Charter an opportunity to pick up at least 3M cable subs to help ease regulator concerns about the TWC deal. But he did say that when Comcast does sell it will be done in the most “tax efficient way possible” and will “maximize our presence in our most strategic markets.” He said it will be “a leverage neutral event for Comcast” and while “there is a lot of work to be done” the company “will provide regular updates.”
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