Comcast CFO Speaks Stage Window “Flexibility” – The Hollywood Reporter

Comcast takes a high stance when it comes to looking at possible acquisitions or mergers, especially as it moves the group’s NBCUniversal or other businesses into new areas, said Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh said at an investor conference on Tuesday.

When asked about NBCU’s potential deal partners outside of its traditional entertainment businesses, referencing recent reports that the Comcast entertainment unit was considering a merger with the giant. “We will not comment on speculation or M&A rumors,” Cavanagh said at the 50th JP Morgan Global Technology, Media and Media Conference in Boston.

However, he emphasized: “Obviously, our mission is to see if there are inorganic ways to create value, and we do that. But like I said before, the bar is really high. ”

Cavanagh is more focused on Comcast’s existing businesses. “We really like the company we have,” he said. “We like the businesses we’re in. We think they work really well together.”

The CFO also praised Comcast’s “strong operators,” praising NBCU CEO Jeff Shell, Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson and Sky CEO Dana Strong as executives. experienced in running their business very well, ensuring continued growth. And that contributes to the very high bar for trades, he added. The CFO then again praised the company’s combination of assets, saying it “wouldn’t trade it for anyone else.”

Asked about volatility across the industry and business in general, Comcast’s CFO expressed confidence. “We are doing well and have good growth plans in each of our businesses,” he said. “There’s no upheaval out there that leaves anyone in our company wondering if we should change our plans.”

He argues that if competitors are affected, that could create opportunities. “I think the volatility… [will mean] The wind is blowing our way, “with some trends” in our favor, such as headwinds forcing competitors to invest less in content or talent, he said.

“The tentacles are doing well at the box office,” Cavanagh emphasized during his conference appearance, touting big upcoming films, such as Jurassic World Dominion and Minions: The Rise of Gru. Of smaller, non-disruptive releases, he said: “I think the flexibility that has now been brought to the film business is making the business more valuable. If you look at the possibility of a shorter theatrical run… [the] High-end VOD was very strong right after that and then tweaked the windowing structures that the Universal team did” – put the film on Peacock for four months, then four months elsewhere, etc., guaranteeing “a lot of money for your money.” third party than we were before” – all of which made him “feel pretty good about what was going on on the film front.”

Peacock, the streaming service of Comcast’s NBCU entertainment unit, continues to be a way for the group to “play our own way” in streaming, Cavanagh said. Streamers boosted revenue, but its losses increased in the first quarter. It added 4 million paid subscribers in the first quarter to end it with more than 13 million paid subscribers and 28 million monthly active accounts in the US, up from 24.5 million at the end of 2021. “The idea over time is that we can, says Cavanagh: find a balance” in NBCU’s overall TV business, with Peacock “side by side” with the company’s linear TV networks.

At the time, Comcast President and CEO Brian Roberts said Peacock user motivation and engagement exceeded expectations in the opening quarter of 2022, thanks to content like The World Winter Olympics in Beijing, Super Bowl, Peacock’s most successful film debut. hitherto, Bel-Airand the daily release of Marry me. “Importantly, the retention rate on our service after airing all this exceptional content in such a focused amount of time exceeded our expectations,” he said. “We’ve seen a 25% increase in engagement hours compared to the same period last year.”

Media, entertainment and technology group executives at the end of April also reaffirmed their full-year 2022 loss before interest, tax amortization and Peacock-related depreciation of about $2.5 billion, with higher losses in the second half of the year due to things like content launch timing. The company previously announced it would ramp up spending on Peacock due to a larger increase in paid subscribers.

Cavanagh on Tuesday also discussed a nationwide streaming platform that Comcast plans to launch in a joint venture with Charter Communications. “You are now talking to a joint venture that represents the whole country,” he said, describing the benefits of the deal. “It’s a positive thing.”

The joint venture will provide app developers, broadcasters, retailers, operators and hardware manufacturers “the opportunity to reach customers in major markets across the country with this platform.” , the company said when it revealed its plans. The goal is to “give consumers a modern streaming experience to access their favorite apps, based on Comcast’s Flex (streaming) product, which currently offers all apps most viewed streaming on the market.” As a result, the joint venture’s products “will have hundreds of free content selections through Xumo, a free ad-supported service that currently offers over 200 unique streaming channels,” the partners said. said. NBCUniversal’s Peacock streamer will also be featured on the new streaming platform, “along with other popular apps.”

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