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Andrew Jordan keeping NBC Universal moving with the times

Mark Chillingworth | April 29, 2013
Andrew Jordan is a communicator. He describes everything succinctly and his use of metaphor makes difficult subjects easy to grasp. It's important that Jordan, senior vice president of international technology and operations at NBC Universal, has strong communications skills, as this international broadcaster is undergoing a massive switch in usage patterns. Jordan's job title more than hints at his employer's American heritage, but this Englishman is responsible for all the company's technology operations outside of the US.

Andrew Jordan is a communicator. He describes everything succinctly and his use of metaphor makes difficult subjects easy to grasp. It's important that Jordan, senior vice president of international technology and operations at NBC Universal, has strong communications skills, as this international broadcaster is undergoing a massive switch in usage patterns. Jordan's job title more than hints at his employer's American heritage, but this Englishman is responsible for all the company's technology operations outside of the US.

Radio and printed media apart, NBC Universal is a major mass media player, and is heavily engaged in television, news, movies, online and even theme parks.

"The business breaks into three groups: film, television and news," Jordan explains. "Roughly three-quarters of the business is the US and the other quarter international.

"We are the US version of the BBC and have a history that goes back to the RKO Studios of the initial days of movie-making, which means we have a big archive, in fact the biggest news archive in the world. Today CNBC News is in almost every hotel room in the world.

"In TV and film we are in a rare group of media companies that do the full span of media production and we own a lot of well known production companies like Working Title and Focus Features. One of our most successful recent films was Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," he says of the adaptation of the John le Carré classic.

"We also have four theme parks around the world, which are one of the most profitable parts of the business as have a one-time capex and are very cash?generative."

Based in one of London's newest and most colourful headquarter buildings at Central St Giles, NBC Universal can count Google and YouTube among its fellow tenants -- good neighbours to have as the broadcaster's own business becomes increasingly digital.

"It's a digital revolution for the product -- the workflow for producing a feature or TV show, distribution and consumption. The shift towards electronic sell-through platforms like iTunes has a huge destabilising effect on traditional business models. We still make billions from DVDs, but that is beginning to decline rapidly in certain regions. If you look at what happened in music with MP3 that is happening to media, it is just a bit more fragmented.

Moving with the times

"You have to reinvent your model though. If a blacksmith was making horseshoes and looks up to see a car, he would have thought it was a funny looking device, but if he noticed more and more cars passing his smithy, but carries on making horseshoes and then suddenly notices trade slow, it's too late. He could have been making car parts and adapting his business model.

 

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