When GE Sells The Peacock, Buyers May Not Be Usual Old Birds

As on the NBC game show "Deal or No Deal," you can be sure that the subject of General Electric selling its NBC Universal division will always make a return engagement.

Better still, where's "Fear Factor" when you need it?

According to a report in the Financial Times, GE will consider an NBC sale after the network airs the Beijing Olympics next year.

Why then? NBC will no doubt reap another huge bundle in advertising sales --hopefully around $1 billion or more. Before the Winter Olympics last year, NBC pulled in $16.2 billion in revenue on $2.9 billion in profit, the paper said.

Jeff Zucker, president/CEO of NBC Universal, has crowed that all the focus is on the big network -- but it shouldn't be, since more than 50% of the company's profits come from its cable assets (which NBC added to this week with the proposed purchase of Oxygen Media for $925 million). If that's the case, then why wait?



Who would buy? Surely the usual suspects, like Time Warner, have been bandied about, since it's a large media company without a full-fledged broadcast network -- just one-half of one, the CW. Previously, Time Warner wholly owned the WB.

But consider other bigger, perhaps more unusual players. There's Google, Microsoft, Facebook, or some other new contraption of a media company looking to put a new spin on an old -- but still promising -- entertainment platform.

This would make sense. While those new Internet/tech companies always get the buzz, they really aren't ready to delve into the tricky world of TV program - or content -- development. Yahoo tried to go that route and didn't get very far.

Even for a company like Google, which seems to grow larger and larger by promising advertising networks and marketing solutions to smaller and smaller companies, NBC - or for that matter any network -- is still an attractive option because those old entertainment companies can still get big mass audiences with one hit show. 

Google buying an old media company may seem like a return to the good old days when another big Internet company of its time -- AOL -- decided to buy up Time Warner. We know how that ended.

But one believes that Google, which has made few missteps, wouldn't slip up in the same ways. It wouldn't force NBC to play on a field where it doesn't know its position.

That would be must-see TV.

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