Comcast Buys Controlling Stake in NBC


After months of wrangling, the deal is done: cable operator Comcast is buying a 51 percent controlling stake in NBC Universal for $13.75 billion, putting the United States’ largest cable operator in control of one of the most recognized broadcast, cable, and movie operations on the planet. The deal gives Comcast control not only of the NBC broadcast network, but also includes the company’s numerous cable properties (like Bravo, USA, Syfy, and The Weather Channel), along with the Spanish-language Telemundo network as well as Universal movie studio and theme parks.

The deal will have Comcast givine General Electric about $6.5 billion in cash, as well as contributing its own cable networks (like E! and The Golf Channel, plus numerous regional sports networks) and digital media properties to NBC Universal. Comcast’s assets are values at $7.25 billion.

If the deal is approved by industry regulators, Comcast will become a media conglomerate on the scale of Walt Disney Company…which, ironically, was Comcast CEO Brian Roberts’ first preference for a takeover.

“Today’s announced transaction will increase our capabilities in content and cable networks,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, in a statement. “At the same time, it will enhance consumer choice and accelerate the development of new digital products and services.”

The new joint venture has Comcast attempting to meld content distribution—its cable and Internet operations—with content creation. Time Warner tried unsuccessfully to build a similar empire beginning in the mid-1990s, combining movie, television, and publishing operations with a cable and Internet operations. That didn’t work out so well: Time Warner is now in the final stages of spinning AOL out of its corporate framework, and recently spun its cable operations off into a separate company. However, the media landscape has changes since Time-Warner’s efforts to create an integrated media empire. Comcast sees its main competitors being satellite, mobile, and online content providers; by acquiring media creation assets, Comcast’s services gain a competitive edge in exclusive content.

Comcast has pledged it will maintain NBC’s network of over-the-air broadcast stations—even though the broadcast business model is struggling to retain advertising revenue—as well as improve public interest programming. The company also says it will give free reign to NBC News, and not let Comcast’s business interests interfere with the news bureau’s coverage.

The deal could mean that films from Universal Studios get to Comcast customers and NBC properties faster than they did in the past; however, the deal may also means that costs go up for cable and satellite subscribers on other providers, since Comcast will not doubt be tempted to charge its competitors top dollar for NBC Universal movies and shows—and those costs would be directly passed to consumers on those other services.

The deal is expected to close within a year, pending regulatory approval. Although approval is widely expected, the Obama administration has voiced a tough stance in regard to media consolidation.


T-Mobile goes after big cable companies, pilots wireless home internet service

In a shot at big cable companies, T-Mobile is launching a new pilot program to bring an unlimited wireless LTE home internet service to up to 50,000 homes across the United States by the end of 2019.
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on HBO and what’s leaving in April 2019

Whether you're a cable lifer or a staunch cord cutter, there's never been a better time to get down with premium TV. April 2019 brings Game of Thrones season 8, BlacKkKlansman, and Crazy Rich Asians to HBO.

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.
Movies & TV

Disney completes its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox

Now that Walt Disney Company has closed its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox's movie and television assets, what does this future hold for franchises like X-Men, the Fantastic Four, The Simpsons, and the rest?
Movies & TV

Stranger Things season 3 is coming! Here’s everything we know so far

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season, premiering in July 2019.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.
Movies & TV

Want free movie tickets? Beam these ads into your eyeballs for 15 minutes

Would you watch ads for 20 minutes to earn a free movie ticket? MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes bets you will, and he's launching PreShow, a new app with some pretty advanced technology, to prove it.
Movies & TV

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Everything we know so far

Quentin Tarantino's ninth feature film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, uses the infamous 1969 Manson Family murders as a backdrop to tell a story set in bohemian Los Angeles. Here's everything we know so far.
Movies & TV

New John Wick: Chapter 3 trailer brings gunfights, dogs, and Matrix Easter eggs

A new trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum punctuates the action with a deeper look at the film's star-studded cast, as well as a sly reference to Keanu Reeves' other big action franchise.
Movies & TV

Comcast launches Xfinity Flex, a $5-a-month service aimed at cord cutters

For $5 a month, Xfinity Flex gives existing Xfinity internet subscribers a 4K- and HDR-ready set-top box that can stream video from YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, as well as free TV from apps like Cheddar and ESPN3.
Movies & TV

HBO’s Deadwood movie rustles up a trailer and a release date

This spring, HBO's long-awaited Deadwood movie will explore what happened 10 years after the events of HBO's award-winning drama, giving the series a finale 13 years after the show was canceled.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is set for March 25: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Movies & TV

Us review: Jordan Peele makes seeing double singularly terrifying

Jordan Peele follows up his Oscar-winning 2017 thriller Get Out with a more straightforward horror film in Us, but the film's blunt terror succeeds thanks to fantastic performances from the cast and clever storytelling.
Movies & TV

The Mandalorian snags Taika Waititi as the voice of a classic Star Wars villain

The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service, will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.