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

By Ian Paul, PC World |  Internet

Comcast has adopted a wait-and-see position to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's intent to develop net neutrality regulations. But it's notable that Comcast has been disciplined by the FCC for anti-neutrality practices in the past. The stakes for net neutrality are even higher now that Comcast has an interest in content production and a high-speed Internet provider business serving 15.7 million customers.

Without net neutrality regulations, will Comcast Internet customers be able to access NBC.com content faster than CBS.com or Disney-owned ESPN.com? This may also be a case where the interests of 'Comcast the content creator' diverge from 'Comcast the Internet provider.' But it's something worth keeping an eye on.

What about Comcast's TV Everywhere?

According to the AP, Comcast intends to give its on-demand customers free access to NBC content that now costs money, but will Universal movies come to Comcast Internet or cable customers sooner than non-Comcast customers? Again, it's hard to say, because each Comcast business unit would have diverging interests. Clearly Comcast Cable would benefit from having these premium movies available to its consumers first, but such a limited audience wouldn't necessarily be in the interest of NBC Universal.

What does this mean for advertising?

I think it's a pretty safe bet that Comcast will leverage its properties to become an advertising juggernaut. With all those content companies, and dwindling advertising revenues across many traditional channels, this deal could radically change the value of advertising on Comcast's wide-ranging properties.

What about Hulu?

Comcast has its own on-demand Internet video streaming service called TV Everywhere that is a competing service to Hulu, but for the moment NBC content will remain on Hulu as it always has, according to PaidContent.

What about NBC?

NBC will remain a free, over-the-air television network, according to The Wall Street Journal.

What are the antitrust considerations here?

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