Burke: Comcast Wants More Ad Revenue

New York -- Kicking off the upfront-presentation season, Comcast Corp. chief operating officer Steve Burke said the company is setting its sights on grabbing a much larger slice of the Madison Avenue pie over the next decade and being an integral part of television's evolving landscape.

Burke -- speaking Tuesday at Cipriani here, the site of Comcast Network Sales' first unified upfront presentation for its networks, E! Entertainment Television, Style, The Golf Channel, Outdoor Life Network, G4 and the soon-to-be-renamed and revamped Asia Street on I Channel -- said advertising sales represent about 10% of Comcast’s total annual revenue.

He said ad sales currently account for just under $2 billion of the company's $20 billion in annual revenue, with $1.4 billion garnered on the "cable side," by the Comcast Spotlight unit. He added that another $400 million-$500 million is generated by the "cable content side."

"We're extremely committed to growing the content side, and that will represent a far bigger percentage over the next five to 10 years," he said.

Burke also touched on the changing face of the medium -- one that will see 50% of subscribers equipped with digital-video recorders within five years and that will be impacted by the prevalent use of streaming broadband video and time shifting of programming through video-on-demand.

Noting that all of these are "technologically disruptive" to the way the TV business has historically operated, Burke said Comcast will be in "the middle of all three."

"We're the No. 1 high-speed-Internet provider in the country. We're No. 1 with video-on-demand, and we're rolling out DVRs as fast as anyone," he added.

As such, he said, Comcast wants to work with advertisers interested in running long-form ads within VOD content, to engage branding partners within streaming video and eventually to insert ads in DVRs.

Comcast Network Advertising Sales president Dave Cassaro noted earlier that much of the content airing on the services is produced by the networks -- ownership status that more readily opens the path to sponsors interested in branded extensions.

Burke ended his remarks by intimating that with the company's increasing commitment to networks and programming, over time, Comcast would just as quickly evoke an association with content as the name does now with cable.

In turn, the various network leaders of the Comcast-owned services extolled the virtues of passionate viewers, new shows and attendant demographic appeal.