Comcast's deal to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal from General Electric should put to rest fears at the cable operator that King Content will kill its business. But even if it becomes a thoroughfare of programming genius, the new venture will still have to convince a skeptical marketplace. The train wreck of Time Warner-AOL threw the idea of new media into financial purgatory.
from Summit Notebook:
If you want the Internet to keep doing what it does, keep paying your cable bill, and don't get carried away with the idea of free (free! free!) content.
from Summit Notebook:
In the run-up to the annual Reuters Media Summit, taking place in New York and London next week, we have been asking experts and executives how they think media companies should reinvent themselves for the 21st Century.
Before this week’s dueling Google and Microsoft search licensing deals with Twitter, a recurring rumor in Silicon Valley had Google trying to buy Twitter outright.
Just about everyone who covers media is talking about whether a potential Comcast-GE deal for NBC Universal will kick off a round of consolidation in media.******One executive — one very smart executive — who doesn’t think we’re in for a tidal wave of mergers is Viacom’s Philippe Dauman. (Word is Dauman earned a perfect score on the SAT — at the age of 13). After a speech at Executives’ Club of Chicago on Tuesday, we asked Dauman about consolidation.******”As far as we’re concerned, we ‘re focused on growing our brands, growing our business. We have tremendous brands with a lot of room for growth both in the U.S. and internationally. It’s a big opportunity for us.******”We’ve been involved involved in a lot of consolidation in our corporate history. The record of success in media consolidation has not been all that great for the most part so for ourselves we think the better strategy is to grow organically.”******But what does Dauman think about about the rest of the industry? To that question, he noted that “all of us in the traditional media business have seen the pitfalls” of big mergers, but Comcast may decide to chase a deal because of its unique circumstances. He didn’t elaborate, but we all know that Comcast has longed for more content for quite some time. The structure of the deal reportedly under consideration may work in Comcast’s favor since it doesn’t have to issue any equity.******Dauman isn’t the only smart guy in the media industry of course. Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes made similar though slightly more cutting comments about the prospect of the Comcast-NBC deal last week and about what it said about success of previous big media mergers.******Dauman was more diplomatic.******”There’s a unique set of circumstances here that won’t necessarily in and of itself trigger a wave of other activity,” Dauman said.
If you’ve ever listened to Time Warner chief executive Jeffrey Bewkes speak, you’ll be used to his breezy, languid style. But he sounded even more so than usual on Friday at a conference in Washington D.C. when asked about the big media story of the year so far: Comcast’s bid to take control of NBC Universal.
When most Americans think of where to catch up with episodes of their favorite TV shows on the Web, they more than likely think of Hulu, the online video site owned by NBC, News Corp and Disney that offers free viewing of TV broadcast shows and archive movies. Second to Hulu would probably be YouTube.But not Fancast. Despite being owned by the largest U.S. cable TV operator Comcast, it doesn’t even make the top 10 video sites in the U.S., according to comScore data. (Hulu is No. 5). One of the ways Hulu became better known was by launching a national TV advertising campaign which kicked off during this year’s Super Bowl TV extravaganza. Hulu’s user numbers jumped after those ads — and Fancast hopes for a similar boost.Fancast has dubbed its debut TV campaign “See It For Yourself” and will feature a series of five spots with recaps of shows including CSI Miami, Glee, NCIS, How I Met Your Mother and Gilligan’s Island. Three TV spots will debut on CBS and also on targeted national cable networks. See the Fancast/CSI ad here: The campaign also features an online push and an outdoor drive with interactive bus shelters around the San Francisco area.In truth, beating Hulu might not be Comcast’s biggest prize. It’s more likely to have its eye on its On Demand Online /TV Everywhere initiatives, which aim to make popular cable shows available on demand to paying subscribers. Fancast will be one of Comcast’s key platforms for that new service when it fully rolls out so building awareness of the site now is important.(Photo: CSI Miami’s David Caruso/Reuters)
Few in the media business know dealmaking better than Barry Diller.
So it comes as little surprise that the head of IAC/Interactive was asked about both the Microsoft-Yahoo deal and the AOL separation during an earnings conference call today. He sounded upbeat on both situations.
Anyone want to take a shot at what's behind Time Warner's repurchase of a 5 percent stake in AOL held by Google? Time Warner sold the stake in December 2005 for $1 billion. Now, it has bought it back for $238 million -- a nice job of selling high and buying low. Time Warner plans to spin off AOL by the end of the year.