Media giant NBCUniversal has an Achilles’s heel, according to its top executive. And it hopes it has come up with a cure for the ailment.
“We need to get better in terms of taking our existing video content and bringing it to consumers directly via the Internet,” said Steve Burke, the company’s chief executive, speaking to investors at a conference Wednesday. “We have about 50 different web sites, NBCNews,com and USA.com, and those web sites are – in my opinion, we are not as strong as we need to be, we are not as smart as we need to be” in terms of bringing video to consumers who are increasingly looking for it via digital means.
To that end, Burke said, the company took a look at four different outlets: BuzzFeed, Vox, Vice and Huffington Post. NBCU recently announced it would invest $200 million in each of the first two companies, in deals that will allow for content sharing, joint advertising pacts, and said Burke, education. “We like their businesses, but the real deal is we are going to get smarter” about reaching consumers with content through digital outlets.
NBCU will work with BuzzFeed on a project involving the Olympics, the companies have said, and Burke said he expects NBC News to work with one of the companies going forward.
Burke pledged to continue to work to elminate what he called a “CPM discount” and said NBC and the company’s cable network continued to get lower prices for reaching 1,000 viewers – a common measure used in talks with advertisers – than its main competitors at ABC, Fox, and CBS. He said the company had made progress since Comcast completed its acquisition of NBCU in 2011, but there was still ground to be gained.
“If we are the number-one 18 to 49 network and we have ‘Blacklist’ and ‘The Voice’ and ‘Sunday Night Football,’ an eyeball should not be 10% less than it is on Fox or ABC or CBS,” he said. He described the ground NBCU could gain as a “multi-hundred billion-dollar opportunity.”