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Friday, February 27, 2009

GE Stock Prices: Jeffrey Immelt and Stock Holders

Today your stock lost value as did your corporation. Part of it is due to the general financial challenge that the country is working through; however, how much can be contributed to bad policy decisions? You have many good products and services available, yet your stock’s value continues to decline. Part of your issues is that not all of your divisions are working up to their full potential. NBC, under Jeffrey Zucker’s leadership, has declined as it has failed to take into account the changing viewing demographics as well as the deterioration in quality of the programming, thereby decreasing its profitability.

NBC used to be the front running not only in news, but programming that was unique and popular. It was know for the highest quality. Yet that has changed. The shows of the past have with stood the test of time. Decades later, they are still being aired in reruns on other networks and on independent stations. Their popularity was based in the quality of the show and the diversity of their appeal. However, the NBC network is no longer a synonym for quality programming. Instead, it has become known for cheap shows that appeal to the lowest common denominator and those under 20.

During the late 1950’s through the 1960’s, teens and tweens were the most important demographic; they were ones who were the motivating force in bringing television into the homes of most families. However, over the decades that has radically changed, but the marketing model of networks has not been adjusted to account to take into account the shift in median age.

According to the CDC report published in 2005, the average American life expectancy is 78 as compared to 69 in 1955. As of May 15, 2001, the US Census Bureau reported that the new median age of the US population is 35.3, bringing it to an all time high. While the 18-34 age group declined 4%, the 35-64 year old age group rose 28 %. However, the most dramatic increase was in the 45-54 age group, which increased by 49 %.




July, 2000 36.6
July, 2001 36.8
July, 2002 37.1
July, 2003 37.2
July, 2004 37.4
July, 2005 37.6
July, 2007 37.7
July, 2008 37.9


Born from 1946-1964, the baby boomer generation was the first TV generation. Most don’t remember a time when there wasn’t at least one television in the home. They also remember only having two or three stations to choose from. Television was that generation’s new toy, just blackberries and cell phones are the current generation‘s.

Age group Hour per month
Viewing TV
2-11 106:37
12-17 103:48
18-24 118:28
25-34 142:29
35-44 147:21
45-54 173:00
55-64 190:40
65+ 207:29

According to Nielsen, no longer are teens and tween the primary television demographic; the 12-34 age group have been replaced by the 35 and over as the dominate viewing classification. Yet, NBC under Jeffrey Zucker’s leadership continues to program for a declining demographic, while ignoring a market base that is not only expanding in numbers, but also in financial stability. Baby boomers have started reaching retirement age, giving them more time for viewing as well as more stable incomes. Yet instead of scheduling programs that appeal the older age group, NBC promotes shows based on cost and youth appeal.




Nielsen ratings, Feb. 12-18

Rank Show title Network Viewers in millions
1.
American Idol (Tues) Fox 31.2
2.
American Idol (Wed) Fox 28.9
3.
House Fox 26.0
4.
Grey's Anatomy ABC 25.8
5.
CSI CBS 22.7
6.
CSI: Miami CBS 19.9
7.
Desperate Housewives ABC 18.5
8.
Survivor: Fiji CBS 16.1
8.
Deal or No Deal NBC 16.1
10.
Two and a Half Men CBS 15.5
11.
NCIS CBS 15.4
12.
Criminal Minds CBS 15.2
13.
Shark CBS 15.1
14.
CSI: NY CBS 14.8
15.
Heroes NBC 14.7
16.
Extreme Makeover:
Home Edition ABC 14.2
17.
24 Fox 13.7
17.
Ugly Betty ABC 13.7
19.
Rules of Engagement CBS 13.4
20.
N/A Fox 13.1

Choosing to fill its schedule with cheap reality shows, remakes of older shows, and youth based programming, while relegating the professionally produced programs to mid-season replacements, NBC continues to find itself in the bottom of the ratings. In addition, shows with loyal fan bases, such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Saturday Night Live and Days of our Lives have been revamp to appeal the to younger demographic, while slashing their production budgets. The ratings prove that the current management is out of touch with the needs and desires of the viewers. Dumbed down programming and reality shows may appeal sponsors who sell to teens and tweens such as CDs, DVDs and video games, but quality programs that are professional produced appeal to those who control household budgets. Zucker doesn’t seem to realize that no matter how inexpensive a show costs, it is a waste of air time if no one is watching.

The bottom line is that viewers attract sponsors. Zucker’s programming has driving viewers to other networks, taking with them the sponsors and the profits they represent. Profits increase the value of stocks and bring in larger dividends. The stock holders need to ask themselves if they like the 6.5% devaluation of GE stock and the cut in its annual dividend? If the answer is no, wouldn’t it be a good time to rethink management personal?

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