Comcast-NBC Integration To Come Long After Other Marketplace Changes

Get ready to do business with the biggest new name in media -- Comcast-NBC Universal -- in fall 2011.

Given the scrutiny around the deal, it could take a year and half before it gets approved by all the Federal agencies. That means the benefits of the combined resources of these companies will probably be on hold through two upfront advertising markets.

Comcast-NBC executives haven't mentioned many specifics about their plans -- only that Jeff Zucker, president/CEO of NBC Universal, will continue to run NBC Universal as a separate entity that is 51% controlled by Comcast (GE will have 49% of the venture).

Long-term, though what does this mean? Will distribution, marketing, programming, and advertising be merging operations and personnel? Not necessarily.



Potential problems are foreshadowed by the lessons of the biggest media merger ever to have gone wrong -- the AOL/ Time Warner deal. Chiefly, the word "synergy" of that era -- now turned into "integrated" or "360" -- doesn't have a good history.

So instead we get Comcast executives touting more specifically that the broadcasting business has an upside. How could they not?

Near-term, Comcast-NBC Universal has its own cable systems and cable affiliates (for Comcast's networks E!, Style, Versus, and the Golf Channel, for example) to attend to. Meanwhile, NBC has broadcast affiliates and whoever is left in the Hollywood production community that isn't pissed at NBC for airing Leno at 10 p.m.

Those relationships still need to be maintained well into the second half of 2011.

Among media agency and Comcast-NBC executives, the talk right now is about envisioning a blue-sky future filled with addressable advertising (by way of Canoe Ventures) across all the programming/content platforms of a super media-combined company.

But we all know everything is achieved in smaller steps. And those intermediate moves still have a lot of business prejudices attached, such as the unequal value of current video platforms.

Too, cable networks don't get the same rates as broadcast networks or syndication programming. Advertising rates are also very different locally, among cable systems, interconnects, and broadcast stations. You can throw in unequally priced national and local Web site activity as well.

Here is something else to consider: Eighteen months is a long time. Marketplaces and media consumer technologies can change radically over this period. What should one do until then?

2 comments about "Comcast-NBC Integration To Come Long After Other Marketplace Changes ".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., December 8, 2009 at 5:45 p.m.

    Money Changes Everything. “Cable rates will rise!” Well, of course they will – have they ever gone DOWN? Let see, this merger will mean that the meeting that was going to take place over at Comcast next quarter where all the execs were going to get together and spout platitudes about how they were making far too much money and would be forced to cut subscription rates will have to be cancelled. Too bad – I was looking forward to my annual cable bill reduction.

  2. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, December 9, 2009 at 9:39 a.m.

    Given the time frame between deal making and deal closing, and the continued erosion of NBC's relative influence in the interim, don't be surprised in the fall 2011 if Comcast suddenly thinks they're paying too much.

    Didn't Time Warner do something similar to this about a decade ago? And wasn't their stock at $80 a share when they did? I think TW's "reverse-split" adjusted share price today is around ten bucks.

    Go Comcast!

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