NBC U Exec: $1 Billion in Digital Revenue By End of Year

Apparently some of the mega-corps that make up the AMPTP don't need the same three year study they offered the WGA in order to figure out how they can make money in the digital age. A lot of money.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, NBC Universal's president of Integrated Media Beth Comstock said she expects her company to hit $1 billion in digital revenue by the end of this year.

Yes, you read that correctly: one BILLION dollars. As in Dr. Evil money. A number not pulled out of a hat by some Wall Street analysts (as in the analysts who estimated NBC U made the paltry sum of $700 million in digital revenue in 2007) but an estimate of ONE BILLION DOLLARS straight from the mouth of the NBC U's president of Integrated Media.

All to be generated in a far off, distant time futurists call "this year."

But that's impossible, you say. It can't be. There's no money to be made on the Internet. Isn't that what Big Media keeps telling the Hollywood creative community?

Sure, that's what they're saying to some people (I'm talking to you, WGA). But according to the must-read Variety article linked above, shockingly, that might not be entirely true:

"The most high-profile bet NBC U has made is Hulu.com, the joint Internet vid venture with News Corp. that is still in beta mode but expected to be ready for primetime in the not-so-distant future. Hulu is stocked with ad supported, free web-streaming titles, from contempo NBC and Fox hits to scads of vintage product from both studios. (If you've just got to see the episode of "WKRP in Cincinnati" where Les Nessman tries to end it all by jumping off a ledge, Hulu is where you outta be.)"

You know, ad supported "promotional" showings of past, "vintage" shows like WKRP in order to promote the current season of WK-- uh, never mind. The article continues:

"Feature film content so far pretty is limited, though it does include cult faves such as 'Weekend at Bernie's' and 'The Breakfast Club.'"

Again, I'm sure these are "promotional" showings promoting, uh, ad revenue for NBC U and its partners (but not those who created these movies). Is there more? You bet:

"Unlike past studio-backed 'Net efforts, the partners aren't banking so much on making Hulu.com a destination unto itself, but rather the hub from which to syndicate free, ad-embedded content through its formidable distrib partners including MSN, AOL, Yahoo and MySpace, among others. Hulu in October garnered a $100 million equity investment from a major player in the private equity world, Providence Equity Partners."

Gee, no wonder these giant media companies bolted from the negotiating table after offering writers $250 for their work on the Internet. It was probably out of embarrassment at being so greedy. That or they were simply having too hard a time trying keep a straight face.


Michael said...

From the Variety piece in question:

"NBC U's approach is meant to be illustrated by the edifice the company has erected at CES. It's a 5400-square-foot, multimedia representation of the depth and breadth of the content NBC U has to offer, divided into five key sectors: entertainment, lifestyle, sports/Olympics (NBC and Microsoft on Sunday announced a deal to webcast virtually every minute of the games in Beijing this summer), news/business and international. Within the entertainment area, one of her prime growth targets is videogaming, for obvious reasons."

So what portion of the revenue is from scripted? Hard to tell. But prob. not huge.

QuoterGal said...

You know, Joss Whedon said in December that one of the studio heads was, in fact, Dr. Evil, but we all just laughed at him for wackitude:


iF MAGAZINE: "Did you name the evil Alliance in FIREFLY/SERENITY after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers?"

WHEDON: "No, that’s just one of those happy coincidences. But the fact that one of the studio heads is named Dr. Evil – he doesn’t actually use that, obviously, in the trades, but that’s his given name."

Well, I won't make that mistake again. The man knows things...

He also said on whedonesque.com that the AMPTP was "totally banoonoos" which has certainly proven to be the case.

Joe said...

Time to get a clue United Hollywood. You do realize that NBCU != NBC, right???

NBC Universal owns lots of Internet properties that have nothing to do with scripted television or movies, including iVillage.com, MSNBC.com, NBCSports.com, AllStarStats (which operates Rotoworld.com and fantasy sports sites), SciFi's scifi.com science fiction portal, and the Television Without Pity web site. That's what's responsible for the vast majority of the digital revenue NBCU is currently pulling in.

iVillage was already doing about $100 million in revenue when it was still a standalone publicly traded company a couple of years ago -- given all its growth and subsquent NBC tie-in's, I'd be pretty surprised if its 2007 revenue wasn't at least twice that. And MSNBC.com probably also brought NBC at least as much. NBC didn't pay $600 million for iVillage for the hell of it.

Unknown said...

A Billion dollars isn't just money... it's like a superpower. We can't ask the AMPTP to give up the god like status that comes with that. I mean if they gave up the 2.5 cents on the dollar we we asking for the would only have $975000000. They couldn't buy Sweden with that, and we all know how much they want to buy Sweden.