Originally published: May 2, 2011
Last updated: May 2, 2011 - 3:43pm
As he eases into the role of chief of Comcast's NBCU, Steve Burke is doubling down on an idea that's fallen out of favor in the media business: synergy. While other media companies are breaking apart to streamline, Burke is fixated on strengthening ties between assets as diverse as theme parks and cable channels like CNBC to pump up interest in NBCU's franchises.
He's ordering executives to lend their support to company-wide projects, starting with the animated Easter film "Hop" from Universal Pictures and NBC's new singing competition show "The Voice." The result: promotions ranging from a golf-club swinging Bunny from "Hop" on the Golf Network to dousing Comcast's online-video site with clips of belting wannabe pop stars. He calls the strategy "Project Symphony" -- a play, on synergy, a word he resisted because it evoked cost-cutting and had become a derided term. "As the world fragments, it becomes harder and harder to promote anything," he said in a recent interview. To get people's attention, "you have to take this approach." Some senior NBCU executives say Burke's approach is similar to how they operated in the past, when NBCU tapped "uber priorities," including a new Harry Potter ride in its theme park, the animated film "Despicable Me," the Olympics, and the fall TV line-up. But Burke's pushing the idea more forcefully, they say, reflecting his management style of picking a few projects where he is very hands-on but giving executives room with the rest. He's also directly marketing NBCU content to Comcast's cable and broadband subscribers -- an avenue of cross-promotion NBCU couldn't access in the past.
- NBCU/Comcast Readies For Mega-Marketing Packages
- With NBCU, Comcast Eyes $10 Billion Ad Haul
- Comcast Leaders Aim to Reassure NBCU
- Parallels seen in ABC, NBC shifts
- NBC Universal chief Burke resigns as Comcast COO
- FCC Hears from Comcast-NBC Critics in Chicago
- Comcast bets big on sports
- When "free" is no longer free
- Comcast Melds NBC, Versus For Hockey Coverage
- Group Links Programming Dispute Problems To Comcast Merger
- Comcast-NBCU Under Fire for Dragging Its Feet on Diversity
- NBC has no qualms about using news unit as a marketing tool
- Comcast strikes deal to buy NBC Universal from GE
- Governing the NBCU joint venture
- Could Comcast/NBC rival ESPN?