THAT’S COMCASTIC: Cable Giant Buys NBC Universal


[Photo by Vincent J. Brown]

NEW YORK TIMES: After nearly nine months of negotiations, Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, finally reached an agreement on Thursday to acquire NBC Universal from the General Electric Company. The deal valued NBC Universal at about $30 billion. The agreement will create a joint venture, with Comcast owning 51 percent and G.E. owning 49 percent. Comcast will contribute to the joint venture its stable of cable channels, which includes Versus, the Golf Channel and E Entertainment, worth about $7.25 billion, and will pay G.E. about $6.5 billion in cash, for a total of $13.75 billion. For now, the network will remain NBC Universal, but ultimately Comcast could decide to change the name. Almost immediately, the transaction reshapes the nation’s entertainment industry, giving a cable provider a huge portfolio of new content, even as it raises the sector’s anxieties about the future. For Comcast, the purchase is the realization of its long-held ambition to be a major producer of television shows and movies. MORE

CNET: Alec Baldwin fans needn’t worry that Comcast will pull “30 Rock” or other NBC Universal shows off the Web anytime soon. Comcast managers said Thursday, following the company’s announcement it had acquired a controlling stake in NBC Universal, that it will be business as usual at Hulu, the joint venture operated by NBC Universal, News Corp., and Disney. Ever since rumors of the acquisition began to swirl in September, questions were raised about whether Comcast would try to kill Hulu to discourage cable customers from dropping their hulu_1.jpgsubscriptions. Some critics of the deal said Comcast could also limit access of NBC Universal’s TV shows and films to other popular distributors, such as Netflix and iTunes. It appears that some of this may happen and some of it may not.

During a conference call, Comcast executives said they anticipate that some content will appear online at Hulu, and other shows will appear on TV Everywhere, the Hulu competitor that Comcast, Time Warner, and other cable companies rolled out last summer. “Comcast is too deep into their Internet-related investments for me to believe that they are hoping to clamp down on consumer enjoyment of NBC content,” said James McQuivey, a digital-entertainment analyst for Forrester Research. “They have spent far too much money buying companies and developing infrastructure to suggest they are going to make it a ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ distribution scheme. It would be absolutely foolish to buy an expensive property like NBC Universal and then cut the legs off of it.” MORE

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