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Comcast tops in veeps, but not in Carson Ratio

How many VPs does it take to screw in a light bulb?

In network broadcasting, more than you might think. For 30 years, Johnny Carson skewered NBC for the number of vice presidents at the Peacock.

Although Carson is gone, the veeps remain.

According to Standard & Poor’s Corporation Records, Comcast Corp. has 56 people with the title executive VP or senior VP. That’s tops among the parent companies of the four major U.S. broadcast nets. News Corp., parent of Fox, is a distant second with 28 execs holding those titles. CBS counts only 17 exec VPs and senior veeps. And the Mouse House, owner of ABC, has a mere 13.

Since none of these companies is a pure broadcast network, some of these execs may oversee cable systems (Comcast), theme parks (Disney) or newspapers (News Corp.). Even CBS, the closest thing to a pure broadcast net, owns billboards.

Still, it’s instructive (though some may say specious) to look at the companies’ December-quarter 2012 revenues per person in these job titles. Let’s call it the Carson Ratio, whereby the higher the number, the more a company takes in per executive VP and senior VP.

Thus, despite having the highest quarterly revenue, Comcast has the second-lowest Carson Ratio — a dismal $284.6 million per exec. Disney, by this measure, is the most efficient, producing $872.4 million per upper-level veep.

The big question: After Comcast completes its buy of the remainder of NBC, will there be more or fewer veeps? A quip measure of value
Company revenue per executive VP and senior VP
Company (Net)Dec. quarter revenue*No. of exec./sr. veepsCarson Ratio*Walt Disney (ABC)$11,341 13$872.4News Corp. (Fox)$9,425 28$336.6Comcast (NBC)$15,937 56$284.6CBS Corp. (CBS)$3,698 17$217.5
*in millions – Sources: Company reports; S&P Corporation Records

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