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

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Movies & TV

Study up for season 8 with the best Game of Thrones theories

Season 8 of Game of Thrones is still on the horizon, meaning there's still time to brush up on the best theories about the show. Whether you're one of the last adherents of the Cleganebowl or a King Aerys truther, here are our top theories.
Movies & TV

Stranger Things season 3 trailer goes full ’80s with a monstrous finale

The first trailer for Stranger Things season 3 has been released by Netflix, and it offers a peek at what the kids -- and adults -- of Hawkins, Indiana, have been up to since the otherworldly events of the second season.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Movies & TV

Tarantino goes back to 1969 with first Once Upon a Time in Hollywood trailer

Sony Pictures has released the first trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the ninth film from Oscar-winning writer and director Quentin Tarantino, which stars Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Home Theater

ESPN Plus scores the exclusive rights to UFC Pay-Per-View events

If MMA is your game, then ESPN Plus is now a very important player. The Disney-owned service locked up the exclusive rights to UFC Pay-Per-View events, a deal that will last through 2025 in the United States.
Home Theater

Dish TV customers can access up to 13 NCAA March Madness games in 4K

If you're a basketball fan looking to get your fix of NCAA Championship action in 4K, Dish TV will be airing up to 13 of the tournament games in the ultra high-def format, starting on Tuesday.
Home Theater

Cheer for your favorite NCAA team and Xfinity will respond with matching lights

Screaming at your favorite team just became a lot more rewarding thanks to Comcast's Xfinity voice remote and some special NCAA commands that set your smart lightbulbs to your favorite team's colors.
Movies & TV

Bill and Ted 3 finally faces the music once summer 2020 arrives

Wyld Stallyns Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves travel to the famed Hollywood Bowl to make a big announcement: Bill and Ted 3: Face the Music will begin filming very soon and it has a release date locked in.
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.