Comcast's digital unit is on target to turn profitable this year as revenues from search and advertising partnerships with Google and Yahoo exceed expectations, senior executives said.
The largest U.S. cable operator is also setting up an in-house sales team to focus on selling graphic and in-video advertisements for its entertainment sit
es Fandango and Fancast.
Comcast Interactive Media (CIM) President Amy Banse and Executive Vice President Sam Schwartz told Reuters that traffic and ad revenue had beat expectations at the unit's consumer websites, which include Comcast.net and Game Invasion.
"The Yahoo deal has been very lucrative for us and the Google (deal) continues to be lucrative and grow and we've bought a number of businesses," said Schwartz. "We'll be there in 2008 in terms of profitability," he said.
While Comcast's decision to build its own ad team raises questions about the future of its relationship with Yahoo , Schwartz said the company is "very happy" with the partnership, signed just a year ago and kicked off in the fourth quarter.
Since its formation in December 2005, CIM has acquired online start-ups including online video publisher thePlatform, movie site Fandango and social networking company Plaxo.
Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts told investors last year the company expects to take in $1 billion in advertising revenue by 2012 and that CIM would be profitable this year.
Comcast has also invested in organic growth, by building on the strengths of its existing Web portal Comcast.net, which is the gateway for its 14 million high speed Internet subscribers.
The five-year old site accounts for the vast majority of CIM's revenues from search.
But not every project has been a success. Executives said Ziddio — an online video site set up in 2006 to combine the spontaneity of user-generated content with Comcast's traditional expertise on TV — had failed to gather fans in significant numbers. They are currently evaluating its future.
In January, Comcast unveiled its flagship online video site Fancast, which aggregates thousands of hours of free programming from many of its cable network partners including Viacom, CBS, NBC and News Corp.
CNBC is a unit of General Electric's NBC Universal.