For weeks, there have been big rumblings about a potential buyout of NBC Universal by the cable company you love to hate: Comcast. A deal was consummated today, though it remains pending regulatory approval.
The deal is ridiculously convoluted. Appropriately, perhaps, it’s the sort of thing you’d expect to hear Jack Donaghy and Devon Banks arguing out on 30 Rock. The basics are as follows: NBC Universal is currently owned by General Electric and Vivendi in an 80/20 split. NBCU will borrow $9.1b with which GE can buy out Vivendi, and Comcast will enter with a $6.5b cash offer and $7.25b worth of programming assets. The breakdown after the deal will be that Comcast owns 51% of the conglomerate while GE holds 49%.
The resulting business, which may operate under the name Comcast Entertainment Group, will be a massive entertainment conglomerate. Congress is already planning hearings to determine whether the deal will give Comcast “undue advantages” based on new access to NBC Universal programming.
So what does this mean to you? Outside of a theoretical change in film release windows — i.e. the length of time between when a film bows in theatres and appears On Demand and on DVD — probably not much. Read More »