Comcast Buys NBC to Get USA, Bravo and SyFy
I’m dubious of the Comcast-NBC merger, which NYT describes as a “Deal that Reshapes TV.”
Almost immediately, the transaction reshapes the nation’s entertainment industry, giving a cable provider a huge portfolio of new content, even as it raises the sector’s anxieties about the future.
In a joint statement announcing the agreement, Brian L. Roberts, the chief executive of Comcast, said the deal was “a perfect fit for Comcast and will allow us to become a leader in the development and distribution of multiplatform ‘anytime, anywhere’ media that American consumers are demanding.”
While I’m generally laissez faire on these matters given the incredibly wide array of media choices out there, I’m a bit concerned about a major distributor owning one of the cornerstone networks and thus having inordinate power over the marketplace.
My fears are somewhat allayed — and my mind somewhat blown — by this nugget buried deep in the report:
Most of NBC’s value is in its lucrative cable channels — USA, Bravo, SyFy, CNBC and MSNBC. The NBC network and Universal Studios will comprise only a small portion of the joint venture’s cash flow.
I knew the cables had gotten big but, seriously, USA, Bravo, and SyFy are the big gets here, with NBC and Universal as nice throw-ins?! Really?!
I know CNBC and MSNBC have spectacularly low ratings even by news channel standards and surely the parent channel gets more eyeballs.
So, the only explanation that comes to mind is that NBC is spending so much on its programming that it’s eating its revenues, whereas the shows on the less prestige networks are much cheaper to make — presumably precisely because they’re on less prestigious networks?