Everyone makes fun of NBCU because of the NBC's bumbling high-profile moves over the last half-decade or so, but the reason why the company was so attractive to Comcast was not the broadcast network, but its über-successful cable networks, especially Bravo and USA. Still, it's embarrassing to have your flagship net stumble around like a disoriented shopper on Black Friday. So, if I were in the Comcast executive suite, here's a few things I'd do to prop up the Peacock:
The Hollywood Reporter announced this morning that Comcast has shaken hands with General Electric, giving the giant cable company 51 percent of NBC Universal and Comcast's content assets.
Though the agreement was initially discussed in 2003, when NBC Uni had a higher value, the company is currently said to be worth $30 billion, with its recent acquisitions of Oxygen and iVillage.com, among others. Comcast, of course, brings along networks like E!, the Golf Channel and other sporting networks, valued at $7.25 billion. The final figure paid to GE will depend on what happens in talks between now and the close of the deal, but it is rumored to be about $6.5 billion. This will have Comcast exceeding the revenue assets of Walt Disney, Time Warner and News Corp.
The question is: what will Comcast dump and what will they keep? Almost certainly they will keep the cable networks. Will they keep the NBC network itself? NBC is a popular name brand, but the network has been sagging in the ratings to the point where they're trying desperate moves like "Leno at Ten-o" (a phrase that NBC will undoubtedly use soon if they haven't already).
One can hope the Comcast deal will be a boon to NBC and give the network a shot in the arm to produce better television. I remain skeptical. At this stage, it's pretty much a "wait and see" situation.
What do you think is going to happen? Will Comcast's involvement make NBC Universal better or worse?
The other night she gave a speech at an Ad Council meeting at the Waldorf in New York. Her barbs were mostly about NBC's ratings, including pointing out that "NBC is sadly the fourth-place network. Actually we're in ninth place if you count the radio stations ahead of us right now." She also suggested that if the 1200 people in the audience watched NBC for just one night there would be a huge jump in the ratings.
I've been wondering what will happen if and when Comcast takes over NBC. Will they still have the HQ at 30 Rock? Will the show still be called 30 Rock? Fey suggested a new title: Industrial Park on the Schuyikill River.
Comcast has been looking to buy the financially troubled NBC from General Electric, but Wall Street insiders say the deal won't be good for Comcast's stock.
Even confirmed reports of a takeover bid can't save the network in the eyes of the almighty stockholder. What would make NBC more profitable in Wall Street's eyes?
This could change the entire television landscape and pretty much give us less of a selection in terms of entertainment. The rumor is that Comcast is going to keep the cable channels, then sell the NBC network. News Corporation expressed interest in the property, but the Comcast talks progressed along far enough to eliminate other potential buyers. It could be argued that having MSNBC partially owned by the same owners of Fox News is a bit of a conflict of interest.
Who would step forward to buy NBC network? The ratings haven't been great and they did do that silly thing with Jay Leno and their 10 p.m. slot. NBC is too much of a name brand to let fall by the wayside. Who do you think should step up and buy the network?
Mediabistro got hold of an e-mail that NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker sent to employees. It's a long e-mail, but nowhere in it does he say that the rumors of Comcast (or anyone else) buying NBC are untrue.
Last night I watched the commercial again (for the 4000th time) and I noticed that they've changed the ending. The FIOS guy used to say "I'm going to write down your credit card number which I memorized when I was looking..." I always thought that was an odd line, pretty much insinuating that a Verizon rep would take someone's credit card number like that. But they've now taken that line out and replaced it with something else (though the new line escapes me at the moment - anyone?). I wonder if Verizon complained?
But one thing that gets me through the night is Chelsea Lately, the late night talk show featuring comedian Chelsea Handler and her little nugget Chuy. In my neck of the woods, her show airs at 3 and 3:30 a.m., just the exact moment I need a boost to carry me through to morning.
So I was pretty excited to read that Chelsea's inked a shiny new deal with Comcast Entertainment Group. The agreement includes continuing to exec produce and star in her E! show, Chelsea Lately, through 2012. She's also establishing a new company, Borderline Amazing Productions, which will have a first-look deal with Comcast's cable networks.
The cable company has decided to pay ten dollars to each person who was "affected" by the showing of porn during the game. I have no idea how you're supposed to prove you saw it or even what "affected" means. Annoyed? Ticked off? Embarrassed for your family? Aroused? Did it make you want to strangle a puppy? Comcast, the nudity you showed on Super Bowl Sunday made me rethink my career path. I want my ten dollars!
Comcast is still investigating what exactly happened, but they're pretty sure it was done by someone on purpose. Only people who didn't watch the game in HD actually saw it, which is a great ad for HDTV. Not sure if the spokesperson for the company helps by using the words "aggressively pursue" and "come to a resolution" in the statement.
Everyone, I need your attention! I am about to do something that rarely pops up in my life and, I'm guessing, in yours as well. It might be a little shocking, so I want to make sure that you're near a chair. Deep breath, here it goes...
I want to thank my cable provider. I'll wait until you can sit down. Need a drink of water? Breath of fresh air?
I'm being serious here! I know that it's rare that someone publicly thanks the utility that sucks their money away and provides little if any variety, but I think this time it's merited. You see, for years now the networks have been lacking a very important series of programs that are important to the proper education of our youth. I speak about Looney Tunes cartoons.
This season (Jay reviewed one a couple of years ago), Comcast, Cox, Time-Warner, and Bright House all have the Yule Log on their On Demand service (via iN Demand). It's that scene of a crackling fireplace to get you in the Christmas mood. It's especially good if you don't have a fireplace of your own (duh), and it's in HD! I have Comcast digital, and to access it, go to your On Demand menu, then scroll down to HD On Demand, then go to TV Entertainment. You'll see a "Yule Log & More" category (not sure how to get to the section on other cable systems - maybe it's the same?).
But wait, there's more...
Um....OK, so I just turned on MSNBC to get the latest news and I get a notice on the screen that says this.
To order MSNBC service on channel 114, call 1-800....
What the hell? So I go to channel 114 and it has the same message. At first I thought it was one of those temporary glitches that sometimes happen to cable systems (in this case, Comcast), but then I read this over at TV Newser. Seems that Comcast is starting to drop MSNBC from its basic package in many areas and putting it in the digital package. They're doing it in Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Connecticut, and now it looks like it is affecting Massachusetts, too. Anyone else out there not have MSNBC?
I think we pay approximately $4000 a month for cable and we have a digital package, so I would hope MSNBC would be covered (especially since CNN and FOX News are there). I'm going to get my paperwork and find out why this move isn't included in it. This isn't even remotely Comcastic.
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