NBC Expects $1B from Digital Properties in ’08

George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer for NBC Universal, said the company’s digital properties are on track to generate $1 billion in revenue this year, up 40 percent from 2007.

Speaking this morning at ad:tech SF, Kliavkoff said “a lot” comes from ad sales, though a portion represents theme park and other ticket sales. Operating profit is increasing 50 percent, year over year, he said.

On another front, Kliavkoff praised Google’s YouTube for becoming more aggressive about removing pirated NBC content from the video site. “It’s significantly less than a couple months ago,” he said.

Digital represents a small slice of NBC Universal’s $15.4 billion revenue in 2007, but its growth, nonetheless, would be significant if other advertising and revenues on broadcast or cable properties were to decline or level off. (Kliavkoff gave no indication that would occur, though.)

In an interviewed with Adam Lashinsky, senior writer for “Fortune,”
Kliavkoff spent a chunk of time talking about Hulu, the NBC Universal-News Corp. joint venture for a premium video portal. The ad sales teams at NBC Universal and News Corp., he said, have the first right to sell inventory on Hulu or distribution sites a couple months in advance of the Hulu sales team. When that occurs, Hulu gets the same revenue split — without the cost of sale.

About a month ago, consumers were given two options for viewing advertisements on Hulu, according to Kliavkoff. People can opt to see either one movie trailer before a program, or five :15 spots.

At one point, Lashinsky asked Kliavkoff what it was like to yank NBC programming from Apple’s iTunes. Kliavkoff suggested “yanked” was a loaded word. Lashinsky, with humor, fired back: “How did it feel to give Steve Jobs the finger?”

Speaking like the lawyer that he is, Kliavkoff said it was inappropriate for him to discuss a matter involving a distribution partner — and added that NBC has a film distribution deal with Apples iTunes. He declined to discuss details, though, including the revenue-sharing arrangement.

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