NBCU’s Burke Sees Dollars Swinging from Digital to TV

Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal says he’s expecting a robust upfront because of signs he sees that advertisers might be deciding to shift dollars from digital to TV as the upfront market approaches.

Speaking Wednesday on Comcast’s earnings call with analysts, Burke described an ad spending pendulum that swings back and forth between digital and traditional linear broadcast and cable.

Read More: Upfront Central

“I think for a whole variety or reasons advertisers are coming to the conclusion that that pendulum ought to swing back in our favor,” Burke said. “That’s not to say it definitely will, but there’s certainly signs and people that we’ve talked to of a coming home to a trusted environment, where an ad can be in context, where an ad can be watched the way people watch television ads from the beginning until the end and behaviors change and brands are built and businesses succeed.”

In the past few weeks, there have been headlines about data being breached at Facebook and ads on YouTube running against unsavory content.

Burke added that ratings have been strong at NBC and NBCU’s cable networks.

“Scatter for the last two or three quarter has been quite strong. The first quarter was the stronger quarter for scatter that we’ve had in a while. It’s too early to say what the second quarter will be,” Burke said. Scatter pricing, particularly in the second quarter is often an indicator of the likely strength of the upfront market.

“I think we have the cards to enter the upfront in a stronger position than we have in many years,” Burke said.

“So for all those reasons the strength of our portfolio in general but in particular with NBC and also the strength of the market and the pendulum coming back to television, I’m really looking forward to a very robust upfront,” he said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.