Comcast's NBCU bid key to survival?

Comcast's bid to buy NBCU from General Electric is part of the cable company’s effort to become a “major global communications player on the same scale as Disney, Viacom, Time Warner or Fox,” and will help it survive as more than just a “dumb pipe,” reports the L.A. Times.

Should Comcast managed to complete the deal with GE, which would give it a controlling interest in NBC’s digital division, the Philadelphia-based company would have a convenient -- and critical -- hedge against the rising cost of content, which cable companies have generally passed along to their customers. The cost of cable has, at least in part, been responsible for the increasing popularity of online video sites like Hulu, which provides free -- for the moment -- television content that cable companies charge. Hulu is owned in part by NBC Universal, and so would be part of the deal.

"If you are Brian Roberts, buying a content company is a hedge against these rising programming costs," Jason Bazinet, a media analyst with CitiGroup Global, told the Times. Comcast then would help set prices. "For Comcast, you would be collecting as many checks as you are cutting."

Comcast and GE reportedly are edging ever closer to a deal for NBC Universal, having valued the property at some $30 billion. One fly in the ointment, is the 20 percent share of NBCU currently owned by French media company Vivendi. The Times reports that the deal is unlikely to move forward unless Vivendi sells its share.

For more:
- see this L.A. Times article

Related articles:
Zucker would stay as head of 'new' NBCU 
Report: Comcast and GE agree to value of NBCU
Comcast close to deal with GE for NBCU 
Hulu's free--for now 
Would NBCU-Comcast deal make Hulu pay-per-view?

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