Likely to discuss layoffs
While no one at NBC would comment about the content of Mr. Zucker's address -- which is being referred to internally as a "town hall meeting" -- it will likely touch on the widely rumored layoffs first reported by the website fishbowldc.com.
Mr. Zucker's speech is the second internal address in recent weeks. The first was delivered to news staffers and laid the ground work for numerous operating changes. The network is also trying to integrate one of its recent acquisitions, the female-oriented website iVillage, to make the most of its online traffic.
NBC Universal, which is 80% owned by General Electric Co. and 20% owned by Vivendi, has had a tough quarter. Lower advertising revenue at the flagship network contributed to a 10% drop in profits to $542 million, compared with $603 million for the same period last year. Overall revenue for the division -- which encompasses NBC, Telemundo and Universal Pictures -- rose 20% to $3.6 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30.
While the addition of National Football League games to the network schedule helped NBC during the upfront this year, the network struggled to come anywhere near the $3 billion mark of yesteryear. The network said it reeled in ad commitments of around $1.9 billion, of which around $500 million to $600 million was spent on the football property.
NBC's programming has so far performed better this season than last with "Heroes" coming in as one of the top new shows so far. In the 18- to 49-year-old demo, the network is up 9% season to date, but its 3.8 rating in that advertiser-sought demo still lags ABC's 4.2 and CBS's 4.0. The poor ad performance has led to cut backs on every level, with NBC Universal's cable unit also shouldering the burden along with Universal Pictures.