Morning Joe | February 13, 2013
>>> with us now, the chairman and ceo of comcast , brian roberts . i tried to get joe to dress up.
>> i'm dressed up.
>> this is me dressing up.
>> i'm sorry.
>> we didn't know it was casual at comcast .
>> every day is casual day here on " morning joe ," apparently.
>> look at barnicle. you notice. i mean, from --
>> all right.
>> -- the waist up, he looks good. but untucked shirt.
>> this happened quickly.
>> it's been two years. i think i was right here almost two years ago today. and it's been a great two years. and so when we had the opportunity to sit down with ge and say, could we accelerate? you know, we didn't have to. they didn't have to. so you have to find an arrangement that we both felt was fair. but in our minds we'd probably pay more later to buy the other 49%. we love the businesses. we think the turnaround is happening. steve burke and the management team at nbc universal we're very pleased with. and so here we are. we also had historically low interest rates. it's a good time to invest. we think the economy's slowly rebounding and continuing, sustainably, and our cable business which gets lost sometimes in all this. steve's replacement, neil schmidt, is doing a fantastic job. had a record quarter. record year.
>> by the way, " morning joe " leading the way, as usual.
>> a big part of it, right?
>> exactly. so the decision that you had to make, to accelerate it, because that's interesting, if you have 51%, the way i would think, and it's the reason why i'm employed by you is because i think, well, if somebody's carrying 49% of the freight and i have control of the company, i'm going to keep it that way for as long as possible. but talk about the advantages of clearing it out and owning the full 100%.
>> well, on the one hand, it was a perfect relationship. and ge's been a great partner. really, really. and they let us do our thing, and that's not easy for two companies to operate that way, especially when one used to operate the business. but if you're going to do all that work and if you really believe it's going to be successful, so sometimes actions speak louder than words. we believe we would have paid more later. we believe that these businesses are getting more valuable. " morning joe ," in all seriousness, all kidding aside, all of our content wants to be on more platforms. it's more popular than ever. how we all get paid, there's plenty of uncertainty in the business. but the content business looks really successful, particularly cable channels . and that's the heart and soul of nbc universal . but nbc is turning around. nbc sports is no longer losing money. theme parks , we were all just in orlando.
>> universal theme parks have had a record year and a record couple years.
>> by the way, that's been a real surprise for you guys. i understand that when you came in, you looked at all these other things. you also have theme parks . yeah, yeah, that's great. but it ends up that these theme parks are doing a great business right doing a great business.
>> almost $1 billion in cash flow and we're expecting. we're taking most of that -- a big portion of that and we're going to put it into new transformers ride, more harry potter experiences all over the world, we hope. so we're investing, and if you think some day those investments are going to pay off, you'd like 100% of those payoffs, not 51%, it's that simple.
>> you've mentioned content several times this morning. in terms of the delivery, and content i assume is going to be king in the immediate future. what you can deliver for content to viewers. does anyone know where content is going? where and how it's going to be delivered over the next five to six years?
>> my honest answer to that question is i don't think anybody can say with certainty what's going to happen with technology. and i don't know what's king. i know content's critical. but at the same time we're building the world class distribution network with our fiberoptics at xfinity and comcast . we have the best in home wi-fi. we're building that in your neighborhood. however you choose to consume it, we want to be a company you consume our content and you consume it through our network. it's not always going to be that way. but if we have the best netwoand the best content we're uniquely positioned at a very special company . that's why we completed this 100% purchase. it's why our company is, i think, a little different than every other. it's not a media company. not a technology company. it's the best of both.
>> people have talked for a while about the demise of cable. your answer to mike's question speaks to that a bit. building on mike's point how did you do it last year and how do you see the cable business growing going forward in spite of the early talk and the premature talk about cable not being able to succeed in this new environment.
>> one, you're right. we lost 7,000 customers in the fourth quarter. had it not been for hurricane sandy we would have gained customers for the first time in over five years. i don't know we can do that every quarter. we've had something like nine straight quarters where our results got better than a year before. the worst is over and we see, you know, a lot depends on housing and the economy. but our products are better. there are more experiences. you can get them on more devices. it's a better reason to buy our cable service . secondly our internet is really the growth engine of the company. we've diversified. taken that same wire. we maybe can't control all the video and what some kids want to do but we can have the best internet, which we do. we can continue to invest in that. thirdly, we look for new businesses. we just started a home security business. we went into small and medium sized businesses who were well over $3 billion in revenues and a business that was zero five years ago. just with the same wire but now attaching it to businesses and bringing fiber and bringing competition to a market that didn't have competition. i think you can't standstill. you can't predict with certainty. but you can have a company where you stand for growth, innovation, taking risk, having a strong balance sheet and great people. you know, the rest will work itself out.
>> joe, notice he gave three reasons.
>> i can tell you people around here are really excited you guys are here.
>> very excited.
>> because their 401(k)s have gone way up. they've been flat for a while before you guys get here. of course, i'm going to have to look into retirement funds sometime. it's not all good news.
>> you have.
>> this is going to cut into some people's free time .
>> oh, yes. burke. is he going to be okay?
>> he's not going to have time to kayak around manhattan.
>> is he all right with all this?
>> he is really pumped up. i think the whole group is.
>> steve burk is pumped up.
>> and he's athletic and working hard.
>> his hair never moves. 100% every time.
>> like superman.
>> i love listening to these guys down in orlando talking about their relationship. you have a really fascinating, really good relationship with steve burke .
>> we've worked together now almost 13 years. and we've seen comcast change an awful lot. here we are. he has put together a super team here at nbcuniversal. we had a great management retreat. we have an ambitious goal for '13 and beyond. this is a long-term proposition. we'll tell the employees in a town hall later today that, you know, it's not two years. it's not one quarter. it's a consistency and purpose and a belief that if we build it and we have the best content and the best distribution, we're going to have a great company.
>> come cacast chairman and ceo brian roberts .
>>> coming up on " morning joe " major antonio villaraigosa will join us. you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks. just one