During the GE years, NBC was home to a number of hits including "Friends," ''Seinfeld," ''ER," ''Frasier," and the "West Wing." Millions of American tuned in each night to watch the network's lineup, which was sold as "Must See TV."
In 2011, GE sold its majority ownership of NBCUniversal to Comcast for $8 billion in cash and reduced its ownership share from 80 percent to 49 percent. Tuesday's sale of the remaining stake gives GE cash to focus on its industrial businesses, such as building train locomotives, wind turbines and lights.
In 2007, just before the financial crisis hit with full force, GE's finance arm accounted for about 55 percent of the company's earnings, according to Martin. NBCUniversal contributed about $3 billion of the company's $22 billion in operating profit.
In 2012, GE's industrial segment — including a growing energy-infrastructure business — had a profit of $15.49 billion, compared with $7.4 billion from GE Capital.
General Electric CEO Immelt said that Tuesday's sale of NBCUniversal will allow his company to "accelerate our investment in our core businesses."
Showbiz might be sexy, but for GE the profit apparently is in manufacturing the devices that generate the power for our TVs.
Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.