Will upcoming streaming video offerings from Hulu, DirecTV Now, Google Unplugged and others shake up the TV market? Not much, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke told analysts this morning at Comcast’s quarterly earnings briefing.
“We all have a healthy degree of skepticism” that entrants will “create millions and millions and millions of subscribers any time soon,” he says.
They could have “a modest positive” impact on his company: Most likely will carry NBC and many of the company’s cable channels and will appeal to about 20 million households that don’t subscribe to traditional pay TV.
But he sees little cannibalization. “Most people find tremendous value in their cable or satellite subscription,” Burke says.
Comcast chief Brian Roberts wouldn’t comment on AT&T’s $84.7 billion plan to buy Time Warner. He also sidestepped a question about whether he believes his company is strategically complete — a backdoor way to find out whether he’s prowling for acquisitions.
“We have a fabulous company,” he says. “I couldn’t be happier with this quarter and the momentum for this year.”
But he plans to fire a shot across the bow of AT&T and other telcos in mid-2017 by introducing a wireless service that blends Comcast’s wifi with Verizon’s cell network — part of a deal several cable operators have with the company.
“We fundamentally believe we can make money for shareholders with a wireless offering” he says — even with a provision to help customers secure the new phones they’d need to access the service.
Burke told analysts that he’s not worried about the recent drop in NFL ratings, including at NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
“It’s difficult to tell precisely what’s happening with any particular sporting property,” he says. The Sunday night match ups are “not as good as they could have been.” And it’s tough to compare this year’s ratings with last year’s “extraordinary season.”
But that “doesn’t cause us too much concern” because SNF remains “by far the highest rated show on television” and “very profitable.”
The NBCU chief would like to see Nielsen move faster to count viewers who watch shows on digital devices. “We’re not making enough progress on that,” he says. Advertisers “want to know what is the total audience delivery of a television show.”
Still, the scatter ad market is “strong.”