Several months ago, Comcast announced their “TV Everywhere” program, which would allow subscribers to view their television programming on the web via Comcast.net, or Fancast.com. Comcast has been testing the service in a few markets since then, and today they’ve announced that it’s going nationwide. It’s also now called “xfinity TV”, because I guess TV Everywhere just made too much sense.
While the name is pretty Comcastic (and not in a good way), the service seems like a fantastic deal for Comcast customers. Xfinity TV (uhg) will offer subscribers 27 channels, including cable darlings like HBO and Cinemax. Currently, you have to subscribe to both Comcast TV and broadband to use the service, but they say that eventually any Comcast subscriber will get access (but most likely not to premium content like HBO).
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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 »