NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke reiterated his company’s bullish outlook on the Olympics despite ratings drops during this summer’s Rio Games, saying NBCU made more than $250 million overall thanks in part to a 20% gain in ad sales. Burke made the comments this morning at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2016 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
NBCU parent Comcast paid $12 billion for U.S. broadcast rights to the Olympic Games through 2032, so plenty is at stake. Burke says the company saw “tremendous success” in Rio citing in part owing to the favorable rights deal. “All the advertisers we talked to can’t wait to come back for Korea and Japan,” he said. Ratings were down about 17% in primetime this summer compared with the strong London Summer Olympics in 2012, and about 25% in the key 18-49 demo.
Burke also talked up the synergies in play now that NBCU has closed its deal to acquire DreamWorks Animation, calling it a sign of its bullishness on the animation business. He said Universal’s film leadership of Jeff Shell, Donna Langley and Illumination’s Chris Meledandri will help guide the new DWA, which will boost animated films at Uni from 2 to 4 per year. He also said to expect DWA characters like Shrek to begin appearing in NBCU theme parks, and he touted the robust TV production business.
“We think it’s a perfect deal for us — we bought it at a premium but there are tremendous synergies and we have very very high hopes we did a smart acquisition,” he said.
Burke spoke highly of the theme park business in Orlando, Hollywood and Osaka, saying it has tripled since Comcast acquired NBCU. He said he expects the new Beijing operation to open in 2020.