NEW YORK—The cable networks that make up NBCUniversal’s cable channel empire, including MSNBC, CNN and CNBC, will lose an average of 1% in the second half of 2018, according to a new report from the investment bank Morgan Stanley.
The company has been trying to cut costs amid the recession and its struggling business with advertisers, particularly for cable channels that are owned by cable companies, said Mike Schreiber, senior vice president at Morgan Stanley’s research firm.
The channel consolidation is in line with Comcast’s strategy of selling more of its TV businesses to smaller media companies, Schreib said in an interview.
Comcast has already announced it will sell more than 60% of MSNBC to Disney-owned CNBC.
“We are seeing consolidation among the media companies and that is reflected in this report,” Schreifer said.
“The question now is: Are we going to have a stronger cable network in the long run or will the media be in a stronger position to survive as a result of this consolidation?”
The consolidation of the cable networks is part of Comcast’s effort to save money and focus on TV.
The cable giant’s cable companies have been losing money for years.
The decline in revenue was the first sign of slowing consumer spending and the first indication of the impact of the recession on consumer spending.
Last month, Comcast announced a $1 billion incentive program to help companies to cut their costs.
Comcast said it is also working with Comcast customers to cut the costs of its media properties, including CNN, CNBC and MSNBC.
Morgan Stanley said the cable companies’ average profit margins fell for the second quarter in 2018 to 29.6%, from 28.7% in 2017.
It expects their margins to decline in 2019 to 29% from 29.5%.
“There is a bit of a lull in cable channel revenue growth over the last year, so it could be a while before we see that rebound,” Schreyiber said.
He added that while the news is good for consumers, it’s a mixed report.
The ratings for CNN, for example, have been a disappointment, with many viewers not tuning in.
The network’s ratings also have been declining.
“They’re getting weaker, but their viewership has not recovered,” Schrekert said.
Morgan Schreber and Mike Schreyeisen, the Morgan Stanley analysts, published the report Monday in the journal InvestorPlace.