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No, Universal isn't buying Warner Bros.

Written by
Published: February 13, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Theme parks fans are buzzing about a proposed deal between NBCUniversal parent Comcast and Time Warner Cable. But let's slow down and pay some extra attention to that last word.

Comcast has made an offer to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45 billion in stock. That's Time Warner Cable, not Time Warner the entertainment conglomerate.

What's the difference, you ask? Time Warner Cable used to be the cable television subscription arm of Time Warner, but the parent company spun off its cable operations in 2009, and today Time Warner Cable is just another company, one using the "Time Warner" name under license from its former parent. (For another, theme park-related example, the Busch Gardens theme parks are using the "Busch" name under license from their former owners at Anheuser-Busch InBev. Today, they're owned by the independent company SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.)

If/when Comcast gets ahold of Time Warner Cable, it'll be buying just several million cable subscribers around the country, not any of the IP [intellectual property] that former parent company Time Warner owns. That means no DC Comics characters or other Warner Bros. properties are coming under NBCUniversal's control under this proposed deal.

Obviously, Comcast thinks it the deal puts the company in a stronger long-term position, or it wouldn't have made the offer. Who knows what Comcast might do in that stronger position? For now, though, that's just speculation. (Of course, we theme park fans excel at that, don't we?)

Nevertheless, when other fans get excited about Universal theme parks getting the right to Batman and Superman, tell 'em that's not the deal that's happening. Universal isn't buying Warner Bros. Just another cable company.

Readers' Opinions

From 68.194.172.130 on February 13, 2014 at 6:26 PM
Way to burst my bubble I was looking forward to a dark night coaster clone at islands of adventure.
From Ted Heumann on February 13, 2014 at 6:27 PM
Two things,
First, I'm saddened that you had to write this article. It's sad that some people don't pay close enough attention that they didn't notice that the deal is for Time Warner CABLE.

Second, I think this is a bad move for Comcast. The content DELIVERY business is not a growth industry. That's why I thought it was so smart for Comcast to buy NBC/Universal because the content OWNER business is a better business to be in. I could think of LOTS of things that would be a better investment of $45 BILLION dollars than Time Warner Cable (and NO, I'm not talking about investment in their theme parks).

From Robert Niles on February 13, 2014 at 6:34 PM
Ted,

The best analysis I've read on this deal (from multiple sources, so no links), is that this deal is all about creating a company big enough to exercise more clout in negotiating retransmission deals with non-Comcast properties (that'd be Disney, CBS, Fox, and Discovery properties, mostly). Comcast wants to control enough of the market that content providers can't afford to get to the point in negotiations where their channel is off the system and running those "call your cable provider to get [channel X] back on!" radio commercials.

From Annette Forrest on February 14, 2014 at 12:26 AM
I wish Universal would get the DC rights at some point. That would be awesome...if they could re-theme Super Hero Island as Gotham City. It would complement the HP stuff nicely I think. All the rides could just be remade with DC characters. Disney would have to bribe Universal to do that, but it would be awesome to have the DC characters at IOA.
From James Rao on February 14, 2014 at 6:48 AM
The writing is on the wall for Comcast and other traditional cable companies: Google Fiber is the wave of the future. It may take a decade or so for it to fully assert itself, but once Fiber is accessible to most of the nation, it is the clear cut best choice for internet, television, and movies. Consolidation is the best hope for the dinosaurs of this industry.

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