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paidContent - Earnings: NBCU Profits Drop 41 Percent; Revs Fall 8 Percent

This story was written by David Kaplan.
Declines in broadcast and local TV helped push NBC Universal’s profits down 41 percent in Q2. The media company’s parent, General Electric (NYSE: GE) fell as well, but was able to beat analysts’ expectations. Overall, GE, which owns 80 percent of NBCU, posted profits of $2.9 billion ($0.26 cents per share) for a 47 percent drop from Q208. Thomson Reuters’ analysts’ consensus expected earnings of $0.23 cents per share in Q2, CNNMoney said. NBCU’s revenue fell 8 percent to $3.5 billion.

Earnings release | Webcast (8:30 AM EDT)

During the call, GE executives said that while the cable channels were all up, NBCU’s broadcast was down by about $100 million, mostly due to writedowns. For the year, the company expects NBCU to post declines between 15- and 25 percent. Obviously, broadcast is hurting from the recession, but the absence of the lucrative Olympics ad revenue also accounts in part for that drop. On the plus side, NBCU doesn’t have the costs related to the Olympics either, GE execs pointed out, but that’s hardly a consolation. Hulu, NBCU’s JV with News Corp. (NYSE: NWS), also warranted a brief mention regarding Disney’s decision in May to finally add its programming to the site, but nothing was said about its financial performance.

Turning to the sluggish upfront negotiations, despite reports of recent movement in dealmaking, GE execs expect NBCU to retain a larger portion of its ad inventory for the scatter market this fall compared to previous years.

By David Kaplan

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