NBC-Universal-Comcast Merger: What We Do and Don't Know

By Ian Paul, PC World |  Internet

From the press release: the NBC Television Network; specialty channels including USA, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, Syfy, E!, Style, Versus and the Golf Channel; Universal Pictures and Universal Studios Home Entertainment; local broadcast TV stations in ten top U.S. markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia; the national Telemundo Network and 16 Telemundo owned-and-operated stations in locations such as Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Chicago and Dallas/Ft.Worth; NBC Universal Domestic and International Distribution and a 3,000-title library of television episodes; NBC News including Nightly News with Brian Williams, the Today show and Meet the Press; rights to sports programming including the Olympics (through 2012), NBC Sunday Night Football, NHL/Stanley Cup, PGA Tour, US Open, Ryder Cup, Wimbledon and the Kentucky Derby, Versus, Golf Channel and Comcast's 10 regional sports networks; digital properties including CNBC.com, Daily Candy, iVillage and Fandango; ownership of theme parks in Florida (50% interest), California (100% interest) and a financial interest in a theme park in Japan; minority interest in A&E, Biography, The History Channel, The Weather Channel, Lifetime and Hulu.com.

What does this mean for Comcast Cable?

According to the joint statement, the new venture would not include Comcast's cable business. Comcast has created a new entity called Comcast Entertainment Group that will "house Comcast's interest in the joint venture and will stand alongside Comcast Cable."

Are there any nightmare scenarios for competing cable providers?

One concern may be that other cable providers are now buying the rights to carry NBC content from a competitor, which could mean higher prices that would inevitably get passed on to you. However, it should be noted that Comcast serves 23.8 million cable customers, but there are over 65 million cable-enabled households in the U.S., according to 2006 numbers from metrics firm SNL Kagan. So the new content company's interests may diverge from Comcast Cable's needs.

However, the Associated Press is reporting that NBC shows that now cost money to access through Comcast's fledgling online on-demand service called TV Everywhere, will be free to Comcast customers for the first three years following the closing of Thursday's business deal. Comcast was also clear that it would not allow its business interests to influence NBC News, according to the AP.

What about net neutrality?

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