Comcast acquiring NBC Universal from GE

It’s been announced that GE will be divesting itself of NBC Universal and selling controlling ownership to Comcast for 40 bajillion dollars (I might have misheard that last part).

The deal gives Comcast:
– television production (NBC Studios)
– a film studio (Universal)
– theme parks (Universal Studio Theme Parks)
– a broadcast network (NBC)
– several cable networks (Bravo, MSNBC, USA, etc)
– the largest (?) cable delivery network
– major broadband internet delivery service
– telephone service

Not to mention all the NBC-Universal content, shows, characters, etc.

Based on my past experience with Comcast (cable and internet) I found them to be both incompetent and evil. Okay, not evil, but certainly they did not give a first thought to the customer (viewer). I hope that somehow this gets blocked or (better yet) is an unmitigated disaster for Comcast.

God, I hate Comcast

I thought of putting this in Cafe Society since it deals with entertainment conglomerates, but I’d really rather have a debate about the business side of it, not the entertainment side.

Too bad - I was just wondering how they’ll work it into the 30 Rock plotline.

Did they finally get tired of Letterman making all the GE jokes?

I have to confess this was my thought as well. Will Comcast be absorbed into Sheinhart Wigs?

And it’s good material for Letterman as well.

I don’t know how Comcast stays in business when they couldn’t even keep my internet connection working 24/7. I wonder if they’re losing a lot of customers to satellite TV and DSL (which is what I ended up doing).

The deal gives Comcast 51% of NBC-Universal. But Comcast already owns E!, G4, Versus, the Golf Channel and several other cable networks. From that standpoint, getting NBC is certainly bigger, but not really “different.”

:shrug: So is GE.

Dammit, Alessan, you stole my line. :smack:

I wonder what this means for GE? Why the offload?

We knew about this for a while now, and hearing it, I still can’t believe it. I never considered GE to be evil, but then again, I don’t bite the hand that feeds me. Comcast, I know from previously having their shitty service, must be evil incarnate.

The article in the New York Times said that most of the cash flow is in the cable channels (USA, Bravo, SyFy, CNBC and MSNBC) and that NBC and Universal Studios are only a small part. But they do get the Universal film library and they may decide to make movies available On Demand at the same time that they’re released on DVD. (Since the DVDs are sold at retail, they only make a small profit on each one, so they can probably make a lot more by selling the movies through the On Demand service.)

What they’re probably going to do (Comcast, that is) is revenue-generate the crap out of the Universal library. We talked about this in my inter-department meetings with the IP lawyers. I won’t be surprised if it becomes a free, streaming type of service available only to Comcast subscribers. Don’t have broadband, don’t worry, Comcast will provide it for you for a small fee (even though in most cases it’s on the same cable).

Jack will be forced to move to Phili :eek:

Conan O’Brien had a good take already - he and Andy did a fake Comcast ad in Troy McClure voices.

This raises the question: How was Comcast in a financial position to make such a major purchase?

Comcast made a gross profit of $20 billion last year, with revenues of $34 billion. Sure, they’re leveraging the purchase, but not nearly so much as a hostile takeover.

It will be interesting as there is now discussion of the death of OTA (over the air) TV. The FCC for instance, is already talking about plans to make TV stations justify the use of their spectrum or return part of it. (Remember now a TV station can broadcast five or six standard defintion channels in digital TV, where they only could do one analog TV station.) So if the station isn’t broadcasting high def and isn’t making use of their subchannels they are sitting on spectrum that could be sold off.

The most interesting thing is to see if the FCC is going to pressure Comcast to sell off it’s TV stations in markets where Comcast controls the cable market, like Chicago or San Francisco. Though there is no longer a law requiring them to do so, it’ll be interesting to see how that works out.

I don’t know if Comcast is evil, but here is what I do know:

Where I live right now (Portland, ME) I’ve got Time-Warner cable which provides me with a full 70 HD channels (less if I didn’t have HBO, but more if I wanted Skin-a-Max). My sister, who lives a little north of here … and where I’m currently considering buying a house … has Comcast and they have about 20 HD channels, and that includes the movies channels.

So yeah … Comcast sucks and I hope they all die too so that when I move north Time-Warner will have swooped in and picked up the slack and any house I may buy will come with my 70 HD channels.
Or I’ll get a Dish and Time-Warner can go screw too.

The sale leads me to speculate as follows:
[ul]
[li]The economic model for broadcast television is in serious trouble. According to Comcast’s own slide presentation on the deal, NBC primetime delivers advertisers as many eyeballs as USA, TNT, TBS, ABC Family, Lifetime, VH1, AMC, Bravo, and SyFy combined. Yet it’s the cable channels which are the more valuable property, and it’s not hard to see why: Most of the cable channels take the bulk of revenue in subscriber fees. ESPN, to cite one well-known example, receives 75% of its revenue this way, and they’re one of the most popular channels on cable. NBC, by contrast, gets exactly $0 from subscribers.[/li][li]Given the above, it’s likely local TV stations will either slowly start disappearing over the next 20 years or seriously develop their cable/satellite delivery deals. If the latter, I actual think this will be better for local TV–it will have to become more local and less reliant on broad demographics to pick up viewers. We may–for example–start seeing the return of regional talk/kiddie shows (yes, like Krusty the Klown), or variations on programming done now theu podcasting by a lot of DIY-types. Still, I think the days of a decent-sized towns having 7+ OTA TV stations are likely gone; NY/Chicago/LA may be unaffected, but the days of a market the size of, say, Dayton OH (300,000?) served by 6-8 broadcast stations are coming to an end.[/li]Content delivery systems–broadcast vs. cable vs. movie theatre vs. DVD vs. Internet–are becoming less important than the content itself. Don’t get me wrong, owning the pipe is essential to getting your product in the market, but the kind of brand loyalty cultivated by individual providers (e.g. NBC’s “must-see TV”, Bravo’s “Watch What Happens”) is a thing of the past. Cable channels have already gotten pretty broad (there’s not much “learning” on TLC anymore), options from Tivo and Hulu have eroded the idea of “appointment TV” for non-live events, and the most popular on-line discussion sites for TV (TwoP, “Lost”'s The Fuselage, etc.) make a point of hiding network affiliation (TwoP, for example, is owned by NBCU). In summary, the pipe itself is losing it’s ability to be a money-maker, as it’s unlikely one pipe can differentiate itself from another to justify a higher price for content. In a similar vein, I also predict we’ll see more continuous, cross-platform delivery of “branded” material; more like what we’re seeing now with, say, “Battlestar Galactica” or “High School Musical”–franchises which continually generate new series, movies, DVD, etc. on multiple outlets as opposed to, say, waiting every three years or so for the next theatrical release of James Bond or Star Trek.[/ul]

The concentration of companies into huge conglomerates has been going on for a long time. Whether this administration lets it go through will be interesting to see. Cable companies don’t compete. I have 3 or 4 available in my area , they keep sending me ads to change from dish. They may as well have the same advertising company send out all the info at once. The prices are identical.