Can conventional media survive yet?
The proposed $30-billion transaction is the fruition of a longtime ambition by Comcast’s 50-year-old chief executive, Brian Roberts, to recast his family-controlled Philadelphia company into a leading producer of movies and television shows and a purveyor of prominent cable and broadcast networks, including the venerable NBC.
Under terms of the deal, Comcast will contribute its entertainment channels, including E and Versus; nine regional sports networks; and about $6.5 billion in cash in exchange for 51% of the new venture, which will continue to be called NBC Universal for the immediate future.
The deal underscores how cable television — not a broadcast network or a Hollywood movie studio — has become the new profit center for media conglomerates.
GE, which has owned the NBC network for 23 years, will reduce its ownership in the company to 49%. The deal sets up GE for a gradual exit from the entertainment business, granting Comcast the right to buy out GE’s interest within eight years. GE placed a value of $30 billion on its NBC Universal businesses.