Burke: NBC Retrans to Reach $800M in 2016

Adding that the monetization gap is closing rapidly, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said retransmission consent revenue at its NBC broadcast network should reach $800 million this year.

That’s a big leap considering Burke said NBC had $0 in retrans revenue a little more than five years ago.

Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment conference in Los Angeles Wednesday, Burke said that NBC was still behind the retrans leader CBS, which has said it expects to reap $1 billion in retrans revenue this year.

“I think we're catching up,” Burke said. “I wouldn't anticipate us zooming past anyone else, but I think it's pretty hard to argue that NBC shouldn't get the same kind retransmission consent dollars that the other big broadcasters get when we have football and the Olympics and the number one network in terms of demos.”

NBC completed a number of big retrans deals last year and has a few big ones coming up, Burke said. He declined to identify them.

Burke also commented on the proliferation of over-the-top networks – he said the shift of viewers to digital is “no mystery” – but cautioned content companies about selling themselves and their traditional partners short.

“OTT sounds like a better business than in reality it is,” Burke said, adding that consumers generally find that the costs savings expected with many OTT services don’t measure up to traditional pay TV.

“If you are a consumer that has cable and you get 200 channels, I'm not sure why huge numbers of people are going to run out and get excited about paying $45 for 25 channels,” he said.

But despite that disparity, Burke added that NBCU will continue to sell its programming to OTT providers, and expects to be compensated accordingly.

“Our job at NBCUniversal is to license our products and maximize the cash flow of our individual channels,” Burke said. “If people are interested in putting together OTT businesses, like Sling or the Hulu product or Sony or others, we are going to sell to those suppliers. We want to make sure that we make as much or more selling to an over the top supplier as we do selling to an MVPD.”