My $.02 on Comcast's purchase of NBC/Universal
The long-rumored Comcast takeover of NBC/Universal now appears imminent, thanks to GE buying out Vivendi's remaining 20% stake in the company for a reported US$5.8 billion
. With former Universal owner Vivendi out of the way, GE is now free to bring in Comcast as a co-owner, with an option to buy the whole thing. (The Vivendi deal was necessary because (a) Vivendi wanted out and (b) it effectively put a price on the company. Vivendi's 20% was worth $, therefore the whole thing's worth US$29 billion.)
We've had some fun with the idea of Comcast, a cable TV company, owning NBC/Universal. But what will this deal really mean for the owner of the Universal theme parks? (Okay, co-owner of Universal Orlando.)
Having lived through the collapse of the newspaper industry, I say with certainty that any business whose model is based on controlling a medium of distribution for content is dead. If not now, soon.
I also believe that the folks who run Comcast understand this. That's why they are making a play for a content business. Comcast needs NBC/Universal not to support its cable television business, but to replace its cable television business. Comcast must convert itself from a distribution company to a content company, and buying NBC/Universal provides the swiftest way to do that.
Comcast's COO is Steve Burke, an ex-Disney guy who once served as President of the holding company that runs Disneyland Paris. Remember, Comcast tried to get its hands of Disney a few years back, when the Eisner administration was floundering. And then it even made a play for Universal back then, too. So Comcast has been looking to buy content assets for some time.
Yeah, the content business is tough. With hundreds of thousands of viable, ad-supported websites now online, competition for ad dollars stands at an all-time high. But I'd still rather be in the content business than the distribution business. Internet distribution is about to make the cable provider as obsolete as it is now making the daily, printed, home-delivered newspaper. And theme parks, while only a small portion of the NBC/Universal balance sheet, can be a great cash cow, especially with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter coming online in Orlando.
Comcast is making a smart move... for Comcast. Whether this will be a smart move for NBC/Universal remains to be seen. At least under Comcast, NBC/Universal would be owned by a company that not only values entertainment content, but that sees it as the company's future. That ought to beat being owned by an appliance maker/defense contractor.
I still think the Marvel deal is a bigger blow to Universal than Comcast buying NBC/Universal. In fact, I venture it would be better since I am guessing Comcast has a bit more of a clue about entertainment then, well GE who is pretty much good in everything else.
Anyone who has comcast as their cable operator (or phone & internet provider) knows they have no concept of what good customer service even is, which means any service oriented part of NBC/Universal would be a total disaster. Trust me, this would NOT be good news for the theme parks which already lag way behind Disney in customer satisfaction
It’s getting to a point where I may have some problems remembering who owns what park…
I agree with you on the idea of content and it's value Robert. The only issue is when television and internet (which Comcast also provides) become obsolete like the printed newspaper has. With the advent of HDTV and everything now becoming web based, it's hard to imagine that happening anytime soon.
Well what about Time Warner? They own their cable company along with the whole Warner Bros package and at one point, Six Flags.
First off, Comcast ALREADY is a small player in the media content provider arena. They own (wholly or partly) the following E! Entertainment, Style Network, G4, Versus, The Golf Channel, AZN Television, FEARnet and a number of regional sports channels (SportsNet I believe).
Oh, but think of the fun Robert if a defense contractor, we can really do some upgrades to Men in Black on those guns LOL, or even a appliance maker, we can rename Storm Force to the Sit and Spin lol. Ok I had my fun, I just hope they keep up high standards or even more and continue to invest into the parks. With Steve Burke, hopefully they will.
One fear besides customer service issues would be to see it become 'Comcast Studios Resort'!
If UO management brings the Comcast brass - and their families - down for a week, they'll be on board with cultivating the parks. Having a corporate owned facility for meetings, client schmoozing, employee rewards, etc. is a huge, huge asset to any business.
@Derek -- You wrote...
I thought that I pretty much said that. The internet won't be going away, but traditional coaxial fed cable (digital or otherwise) television will eventually go away in lieu of a high speed internet connection that many of us already have. As I said though, we won't be there for a while for several reasons. Comcast widely distributes both cable tv and internet, so they have no worries about being obsolete with their medium.
The real purpose of the Comcast NBC Universal deal is the vast film library of blockbuster hits that Universal has which it can now charge fees to networks and othe cable providers.
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