NBC CEO ‘skeptical’ of streaming TV becoming big business

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke (Comcast)

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke doesn’t sound overly confident in the prospects for the handful of streaming TV services that have emerged.

Burke said during Comcast’s earnings call Thursday that the OTT services that have launched so far are doing as well as NBC expects them to but said that they weren’t “material to our business.”

“We have deals in place with all of them. They're actually very favorable. So from an NBCUniversal point of view, if someone goes to an over-the-top provider, it's actually slightly better. But it's a very tough business. And as we've said before, we're skeptical that it's going to be a very large business or profitable business for the people that are in it. And they're off to a relatively slow start,” said Burke, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Indeed, NBC has made distribution deals with all of the major TV streaming services, including DirecTV Now, Sling TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, FuboTV and Hulu, of which NBC is a part-owner.

RELATED: NBCUniversal signs deal with TV affiliates for streaming, TV Everywhere distribution

NBC also has a deal with the NBC Television Affiliates Board aimed at getting local TV broadcasters to opt in to carriage agreements with new OTT streaming services and for TV Everywhere distribution rights.

But Burke’s comments suggest that streaming TV services are not growing at a rate where they’re having much of an impact on the TV ecosystem. Many virtual MVPDs have been cagey about releasing subscriber numbers. Sling TV, one of the longest running vMVPDs, reportedly ended last quarter with about 1.3 million subscribers. DirecTV Now, one of the more hyped-up launches in the past year, now has nearly 500,000 subscribers.