Walt Disney’s December quarter results on Thursday, showing how well the company is doing in streaming, provided a fascinating contrast with NBCUniversal’s more risk-averse approach to the new industry, which we wrote about this week. And it is a reminder that when your corporate parent is focused on another business—NBCU is owned by broadband-cable TV provider Comcast—your ability to invest for the future can be compromised.
In the old-fashioned TV network and film business, where cord-cutting and the pandemic made for a tough 2020, NBCU is actually doing a little better than Disney. In the most recent quarter, for example, NBCU’s operations in those areas made more money than a year earlier while Disney’s equivalent businesses saw a slight dip in profits. Yet Disney continued to invest heavily in streaming.