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

A long-rumored merger has finally become a reality. Comcast and General Electric announced Thursday morning they would enter into a partnership venture that would merge NBC Universal with Comcast's cable networks, regional sports networks and other properties. Comcast would own 51 percent of the new venture, GE would own 49 percent, and the new entity would be managed by Comcast.

"The combination of assets creates a leading media and entertainment company with the proven capability to provide some of the world’s most popular entertainment, news and sports content, movies and film libraries to consumers anytime, anywhere," the two companies said in a joint statement.

According to the valuation of the deal by the two companies, the new Comcast-NBC Universal entity would create a media company worth just over $37 billion. While a significant amount of money, the deal is a far cry from the $350 billion valuation of the AOL Time Warner deal nine years ago. No doubt many parallels will be drawn between Thursday morning's deal and the now-failed AOL Time Warner merger, which is still considered the largest corporate merger in history. But these two deals are not the same, and are operating in vastly different environments especially where online media is concerned. I would argue that Thursday's deal has the potential to reshape the American entertainment landscape in a way that AOL Time Warner never could.

Here are a few questions about this deal that have got me scratching my head this morning.

What properties are included in the deal?

From the press release: the NBC Television Network; specialty channels including USA, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, Syfy, E!, Style, Versus and the Golf Channel; Universal Pictures and Universal Studios Home Entertainment; local broadcast TV stations in ten top U.S. markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia; the national Telemundo Network and 16 Telemundo owned-and-operated stations in locations such as Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Chicago and Dallas/Ft.Worth; NBC Universal Domestic and International Distribution and a 3,000-title library of television episodes; NBC News including Nightly News with Brian Williams, the Today show and Meet the Press; rights to sports programming including the Olympics (through 2012), NBC Sunday Night Football, NHL/Stanley Cup, PGA Tour, US Open, Ryder Cup, Wimbledon and the Kentucky Derby, Versus, Golf Channel and Comcast’s 10 regional sports networks; digital properties including CNBC.com, Daily Candy, iVillage and Fandango; ownership of theme parks in Florida (50% interest), California (100% interest) and a financial interest in a theme park in Japan; minority interest in A&E, Biography, The History Channel, The Weather Channel, Lifetime and Hulu.com.

What does this mean for Comcast Cable?

According to the joint statement, the new venture would not include Comcast's cable business. Comcast has created a new entity called Comcast Entertainment Group that will "house Comcast’s interest in the joint venture and will stand alongside Comcast Cable."

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