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Challenging media math: how to make “real money” in digital

Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" Photo: NBC

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke talks to Jessica Lessin, founder and CEO of The Information, about "the math puzzle that keeps all media executives up at night":

  • "On any given night, about three and a half million people watch 'The Tonight Show' on linear television. Over the course of the next number of days, almost the exact same number, three and a half million, watch it online ... We make real money off the first. We don't make very much money off the second. Every year, the three and a half million is going to go to 3.3, to 3, and the online will go 3.5 to 3.6."
  • In quest of solutions to that puzzle, Burke sees Snap CEO Evan Spiegel every month or so to plot new areas of collaboration.
  • Burke, whose $500 million bet on Snap is now worth about 12% less: "Snap treats professional content with respect, unlike Facebook, just to give a real pointed example. We are making real money on Snap."

Disclosure: NBC is an investor in Axios.