Comcast's Burke: Smaller cable channels are going bye-bye

Most of the major programming conglomerates are in the process of reducing the size of their network bundle, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said.

"You'll see us and others trimming channels," Burke told investors today during Comcast's second-quarter earnings conference call. "There are just too many networks."

Burke noted that Comcast/NBCU (NASDAQ: CMCSA) already let go of Style and G4.

"We will continue to invest what we need to invest into our bigger channels, and we'll continue to trim the smaller ones."

NBCU's bundle includes highly rated cable channels such as USA, Bravo and Syfy, but also smaller platforms like CNBC Business. Burke didn't say which channels are potentially on the chopping block.

NBCU is coming off its best upfront advertising selling season in years, with CPM prices for the NBC broadcast network up 12.5 percent year over year. USA Network CPMs were up 13 percent, while impressions for Bravo were up 10 percent. 

Revenue from broadcast television spiked over 70 percent to $394 million in the quarter, while revenue from cable networks increased 8.3 percent to $944 million.

Amid solid performances across cable distribution, content networks and theme parks, the only downer portion of Comcast's Wednesday earnings report was found in filmed entertainment, where a poor year-over-year comparison produced an 83 percent revenue drop.

Burke, meanwhile, said the ongoing Rio Olympics ad sales efforts will exceed the 2012 London Olympic Games in profitability. The London Games, he said, yielded a tidy profit of $120 million. 

Finally, fielding an analyst question regarding Comcast's integration of Netflix into the X1 platform, Burke said that with 40 percent of U.S. TV consumers already subscribing to the SVOD platform, "whatever Netflix is going to do to viewing habits, it's already done." 

He described the deal as "a good thing for Comcast."

For more:
- read this Comcast earnings release

Also read: Tracking pay-TV earnings in Q2 2016

Related articles:
Comcast says Netflix usage on X1 will count against data cap
Comcast adds 53K Xfinity TV customers, 438K HSI subs in Q1
Comcast's 69K video sub loss is best Q2 performance in 9 years; X1 deployment rate increases 35%

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