As we’ve been covering the emergence of streaming services, various broadcast and cable networks have been scrambling to join them. However, one network exec is skeptical about their long-term prospects.

NBCUniversal head honcho Steve Burke has ensured that his networks such as Golf Channel, NBCSN and the NBC Sports Regional Networks are on board with DirecTV Now, FuboTV, Hulu, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and YouTube TV. But as for betting on their profitability, Burke says think again:

“We have deals in place with all of them. They’re actually very favorable. So from an NBCUniversal point of view, if someone goes to an over-the-top provider, it’s actually slightly better. But it’s a very tough business. And as we’ve said before, we’re skeptical that it’s going to be a very large business or profitable business for the people that are in it. And they’re off to a relatively slow start,” said Burke, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript

Burke added that the over the top services weren’t necessarily his top priority saying they weren’t “material to our business.”

NBC is a part-owner of Hulu so it’s interesting to see Burke’s comments and his skepticism in regards to OTT streaming.

In monitoring their progress, Burke is hinting that the streaming services aren’t growing as fast as he’d like. And there’s evidence that as the pay TV providers are losing subscribers, the over the top services aren’t picking up the slack and seemingly aren’t yet resonating with consumers. While Sling TV says it has 1.3 million subscribers as of last quarter and DirecTV Now has reached 500,000 people, the other OTT’s have not released their numbers.

NBCUniversal’s Burke has made his statement on the streaming services. Will other media executives follow suit? We shall see.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.