Last week I spoke with a few people in the strategy group at NBC Universal and it was interesting to hear about what they’re focusing on. One of my takeaways is that NBC is trying to to remain relevant and profitable, while ensuring they avoid what is happening to the newspaper industry. This feeling is even more apparent when you listen to Jeff Zucker talk about replacing analog dollars with digital dimes and recognizing that they need to adjust cost structures and continue innovating to get to digital quarters.

I spent some time thinking about the threats and opportunities for NBC’s business and there are a few key areas that are interesting:

# Producing even higher quality content. Companies like HBO are in a great position because people pay a premium for their content. And organizations like the NFL are sitting pretty because NBC pays large licensing fees for their content. NBC needs to develop better original content and I’m not convinced that Networks such as USA or Bravo are going to deliver that. Although I do see opportunities with more targeted channels such as CNBC, the SciFi Channel, MSNBC, Oxygen and Telemundo.

# As the lines between video and the internet continue to blur, more people are watching video online and more people will cut their cord and stop subscribing to cable. According to a Bernstein survey a third of cable tv subscribers would consider switching to internet video over the next 5 years.


I’ve already cut the cord at home and consume all my video online with Boxee, Hulu, YouTube, NetFlix, and other sources – but I realize that I’m not a typical consumer. This is a disruptive force that NBC can’t fight in the long run, and the longer they fight this, the more likely it is a new entrant in this online video market will surpass them. NBC has to determine a strategy to address this potential market where people watch things wherever and whenever they want.

# The final point that I think is interesting from NBC’s perspective is the aspect of real-time content. When I was younger, TV was (and still is for a lot of people), the go-to source for breaking news. Although with services such as Twitter, I no longer feel the need to flip on NBC for breaking local, national, or international news. Instead I can read twitter from my laptop or cell phone, no matter where I am. Realizing that people are consuming real-time and breaking news from sources other than NBC and other broadcast stations is a threat to NBC and they need to develop a strategy in this area where they (and other channels) have a lead, but not for long…