â€œStrikes arenâ€™t good for anybody,â€ he told analysts this morning in Comcastâ€™s quarterly call with analysts. â€œIâ€™m hopeful weâ€™ll get it done.â€
Assuming a clash can be avoided, Â Burke says NBCUniversal heads into the upfront market with â€œour strongest hand â€” by a lot.â€ Indeed, the company has â€œalready started discussionsâ€ with advertisers ahead of NBCâ€™s formal presentation next month.
The TV networks plan to talk up plans to show the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and the World Cup in the 2017-18 TV season.
Burke says that the cable networksâ€™ 16.8% EBITDA growth in Q1 was â€œa high water mark. I donâ€™t think weâ€™re going to replicate that many quarters in the future.â€ He anticipates low to mid single digit percentage growth rates.
He also warned that â€œitâ€™s quite possible we will have quarters where ad sales go backward. But if affiliate fees go up and ad sales go backward you can still have revenue growth.â€
In addition, NBCU can make licensing deals with subscription VOD providers such as Netflix and Amazon. as well as live streaming providers such as DirecTV Now, Sling TV, and YouTube TV which he says â€œwill be moderately beneficial.â€
All told, â€œitâ€™ll be a grindier business than it was, but thereâ€™s a lot of cashâ€ to invest in theme parks, consumer products, Telemundo, and digital services â€œthat have higher growth rates,â€ he says.
Burke isnâ€™t concerned thatÂ his sports business will be threatened by deals similar to Amazonâ€™s recent $50 million agreement to livestream 10 Thursday Night Football games.
When Twitter had the rights it was â€œa very low, single digit percentage of the totalâ€ audience, he says.
NBCâ€™s Olympics deals â€œbasically wash their face very nicely based on advertisingâ€¦.Families will gather to watch major sporting events and theyâ€™re going to want to watch it predominantly on a big screen. And weâ€™re happy to be the company that brings those big events to them.â€
On other matters, CEO Brian Roberts cheered FCC Chairman Ajit Paiâ€™s announcement yesterday about his plan to reverse efforts to strongly enforce net neutrality rules.
â€œWeâ€™re encouraged,â€ Roberts says. The rules that would enable the FCC to stop Comcast and other internet providers from favoring some content services over others â€œputs a damper on ability to invest and react to change.â€
He adds that â€œwe support and wantâ€ net neutrality, â€œbut not in a regulatory regime designed for a different era that doesnâ€™t apply to the businessâ€ with â€œdark clouds for our investment community.â€