Comcast CFO: NBC's retransmission growth should match CBS's trajectory

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Comcast-owned NBC is well on the pace to hit the same $2.5 billion in retrans revenue goal that CBS is eyeing for 2020. (Comcast)

Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh sees continued growth for retransmission consent revenue at NBCUniversal and thinks the company will follow the same growth trajectory laid out by CBS.

Speaking at UBS investors’ conference, Cavanagh said NBC pulled in $850 million in retrans revenues in 2016 and will take in $1.4 billion this year.

“And there is no reason why we wouldn’t track the trajectory of what CBS has talked about of continued steady growth there. So I think total TV, affiliate fees, stable growth, stable advertising and retrans growth against all the investments and the focus on the quality of the product, I think leaves us feeling good about our TV business,” said Cavanagh according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

That puts NBC well on the pace to hit the same $2.5 billion in retrans revenue goal that CBS is eyeing for 2020.

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During NBC’s latest quarter, distribution and other revenue rose 2.3%, due to higher retransmission consent fees, which rose more than 70% to $360 million.

Outside of the discussion about traditional broadcast television revenue, Cavanagh also talked about NBC’s digital strategy across OTT services and social media.

With CBS and Disney expanding their OTT strategies, Cavanagh pointed out the work NBC has already done with Seeso (a comedy SVOD that shut down earlier this year) and Hayu, a reality TV SVOD in Europe. But he sounded cautious about predicting what kind of impact VOD services would ultimately have.

“So we are definitely trying to experiment and learn. So expect us to continue to do that in a variety of different forms. We don’t have the answer yet to whether it’s better, worse, different, how it’s all going to evolve relative to this traditional ecosystem, but we are certainly paying attention and experimenting,” Cavanagh said.

He sounded much more enthusiastic about the work NBC is doing with digital partners including BuzzFeed and in particular Snapchat. Cavanagh said that NBC has two of the top shows on Snapchat with its E! News and NBC News programs. He also looked ahead to working with BuzzFeed again on digital content for the 2018 Winter Olympics, similar to what the companies did together in supplementing coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics.