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Comcast's NBC deal could be roadblock for Apple's subscription hopes

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
While Apple is rumored to be working with TV networks on a subscription plan for shows on iTunes, Comcast's intent to purchase NBC could prevent such a deal with one of the big four U.S. broadcast networks.

This week, General Electric Company announced it had reached an agreement to sell NBC Universal to Comcast, the largest cable operator in the U.S. The $13.75 billion deal would give Comcast 51 percent ownership of NBC Universal, which was valued at $30 billion total per the terms of the agreement.

In November, rumors surfaced that Apple reached out to TV networks with a proposed $30-per-month subscription plan for TV episodes. Apple's proposal was not based on a specific piece of hardware, but the company allegedly plans to integrate subscriptions with the existing iTunes desktop software.

At the time, considered to be the most likely to participate was Disney, of which Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is the largest shareholder. Disney is also the owner of broadcast network ABC, and was the first to allow its content on iTunes to tremendous success.

Some believe that a new Comcast-owned NBC, however, would be unlikely to participate in an "all-you-can-eat" subscription plan. Wall Street analysts with Piper Jaffray have long predicted that Apple will attempt to secure the rights to a subscription TV deal eventually. But analysts told AppleInsider that they believe a Comcast-NBC merger would make an iTunes subscription with NBC content less likely.

The same sentiment was echoed by analyst Colin Dixon, of Diffusion Group, to Investor's Business Daily. If Apple comes to a Comcast-owned NBC looking for a content-related deal, he believes "they'll just say no."

In other words, this could present a potential scenario where Apple could offer a subscription TV deal lacking one of the four big U.S. broadcast networks. And still, there is no guarantee that CBS, Fox and even ABC are willing to deal.

Through the NBC deal, Comcast will also gain control of a number of prominent cable channels that produce original content, including USA Network, SyFy and Bravo. Content from all three cable networks, along with broadcast NBC, is currently available on iTunes.

NBC Universal had its share of issues with iTunes, long before Comcast entered the fold. In 2007, the company's chief executive, Jeff Zucker, urged his colleagues to take a stand against iTunes. He argued that the service undermined the ability of traditional media companies to set profitable rates for their content online. He said that Apple "destroyed the music business," and would do the same by mispricing video content.

But in 2008, the allure of 65 million viewers at iTunes proved too much for NBC Universal to stay away. After a year of absence from iTunes, the network brought its content back. In its time away, NBC had tried to create its own online TV market, but found little success.
post #2 of 65
"destroyed the music business," they did a fine job of destroying their own business without the help of Apple.
Such ungrateful fools!
post #3 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

"destroyed the music business," they did a fine job of destroying their own business without the help of Apple.
Such ungrateful fools!

I don't think they're ungrateful, more like myopic. The networks laughed at a commercial free way of doing business in the late 70's, where people would pay a subscription to have commercial free broadcasts. That was called cable.
Eventually, ads came to that medium, too. When people decide to create online only "channels" for content, like HBO did for cable, maybe the big four will dissolve into the abyss. Or, they will get their act together and do something great. Time will tell.
post #4 of 65
It would be nice if companies that produce the content could directly market to Apple and sell there, away from the Big 3 and Fox. Then, Apple just turns into a market for whoever thinks they are good enough to produce content.

Given the poor quality of much of the downloadable content, I don't know if this is good or bad. But, I do like the idea of cutting out the middle man and letting the market decide which TV shows to keep in production. Quality would probably be maintained by the producers that would have to fun the content anyway.

Also, it would be interesting what Apple would do regarding rating systems.
post #5 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by technohermit View Post

I don't think they're ungrateful, more like myopic.

'myopic' good word I don't use enough.
post #6 of 65
Just remember a lot of government agencies have to Ok this deal before it is done.
post #7 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

'myopic' good word I don't use enough.

I eschew its use.

But seriously, mightn't agreeing to an apple subscription deal be one of the critical actions comcast might need to take to get this deal past the regulators, who are already going to be questioning how it affects competition?
post #8 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

"destroyed the music business," they did a fine job of destroying their own business without the help of Apple.
Such ungrateful fools!

I can get any music I want even easier and cheaper than before. But he's right about the destruction part...except it's his little control business that's going bust, not the customers'. These guys get paid so much and can't see the future if they tripped over it. They need to get themselves some kids.
post #9 of 65
Apple is the least of my concerns. This Merger would be the beginning of the end of much of what we love about the Internet. Comcast must be stopped.
Anti-Merger site:
http://freepress.net/comcast
post #10 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwingrav View Post

It would be nice if companies that produce the content could directly market to Apple and sell there, away from the Big 3 and Fox. Then, Apple just turns into a market for whoever thinks they are good enough to produce content.

Stop making sense! Don't you know network television has little to do with sensibility!

Seriously, I'd like to see something like this, too. But at what point does Apple become the "network" if they are the gateway between production companies and viewers? Could that even happen? Does Apple ever say "no" to indie labels (or others) for certain artists/content on iTunes today? I guess as long as Apple isn't saying "We'll take this series/show/program, but that other one isn't worth our server space," then it would work. But if they end up killing good programs the way networks do now, then we're no better off.
post #11 of 65
The article seems to completely avoid what I thought was one of the basic questions in journalism - why? Why exactly would Comcast tell Apple to take a hike if approached with this deal? Maybe it's something obvious to the States-men, but us syrup-suckers can't always keep up.
post #12 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

'myopic' good word I don't use enough.

How short sighted of you
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
Reply
post #13 of 65
Well, Hulu has a big lead on free content streaming -- Apple is WAY late to the game, and it seems Apple does not plan any free content. Go Hulu! Choice is good.
post #14 of 65
"SyFy"?! or SciFi?! geez.
post #15 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

"SyFy"?! or SciFi?! geez.

SciFi is not trademarkeable. SyFy is. Case closed...
post #16 of 65
Broadcast is dead. Putting a computer next to your TV, using it with Boxee or Plex or iTunes -- or a combination of them -- delivers a far superior product than any broadcast/cable content except for live sports and news. A combination of monthly subscriptions -- say, $10 a month to stream HBO to your Apple TV -- free streaming, rentals and purchases, as I did this year with Mad Men -- is cheaper and more adaptable to your taste. Cable organized in channels = overpayment, lack of choice and, in fact, just the same state of affairs as the CD world of music. "Buy my CD and pay for seven turkeys and three decent songs!" Comcast will own a great deal of its own content, and you know they will force that on you.

The whole point of cable monopolism is to get you to pay up to $200 a month for hundreds of channels you have no interest in. Do I HAVE to pay for the hunting channel? The "redecorate" channel? The "sell your old car" channel? I mean, if you want those, you should get them for a small monthly fee. Why should I have to pay for that? I don't want to watch it.

This deal is classic self-dealing, and anti-competitive. The content providers pay a fee to the cable network, which in Comcast's case, go to themselves. So in effect, Comcast gets "its" content for free. Is this competition?

With all the buzz now about Net Neutrality, this is a perfect example of unfair competition, corporate monopolies, and the enforcement of a corrupt and stupid medium on the digital world that can deliver so much better.
post #17 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post

The article seems to completely avoid what I thought was one of the basic questions in journalism - why? Why exactly would Comcast tell Apple to take a hike if approached with this deal? Maybe it's something obvious to the States-men, but us syrup-suckers can't always keep up.

Good question.
post #18 of 65
It depends on where you are, to most of the world Hulu offers nothing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Well, Hulu has a big lead on free content streaming -- Apple is WAY late to the game, and it seems Apple does not plan any free content. Go Hulu! Choice is good.
Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
Reply
post #19 of 65
Apple = Disney = ABC

Comcast = NBC

FOX = slant

MSNBC = BIGGER SLANT


There I said enough
The danger is that we sleepwalk into a world where cabals of corporations control not only the mainstream devices and the software on them, but also the entire ecosystem of online services around...
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The danger is that we sleepwalk into a world where cabals of corporations control not only the mainstream devices and the software on them, but also the entire ecosystem of online services around...
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post #20 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Well, Hulu has a big lead on free content streaming -- Apple is WAY late to the game, and it seems Apple does not plan any free content. Go Hulu! Choice is good.

What makes you think that hulu will remain free? Drug dealers always give the first taste for free.
post #21 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwingrav View Post

It would be nice if companies that produce the content could directly market to Apple and sell there, away from the Big 3 and Fox. Then, Apple just turns into a market for whoever thinks they are good enough to produce content.

Um the media conglomerates are the ones that make the content. NBC Universal Studios produces more than 50 TV shows, some of which are not even on NBC--House for example is produced by NBC Universal but is sold to Fox. This has changed the TV landscape because shows that do well in the ratings can still be cancelled if the company that makes the show simply decides they don't want to make the show anymoreas TNT found that out when WB decided to end production on Saving Grace. Plus media companies want to make the show, not just air it, so they can get the DVD profits and syndication rights, which typically are not shared with the company that airs the show.

Also, anybody that thinks this deal is about NBC is not paying attention. This deal is about the NBC properties. NBC owns more cable networks than anybody else, and Comcast is a cable company. This deal is about USA, the highest rated cable network, The Weather Channel, and NBC Universal Studios, which produces the TV shows for USA and NBC and some other networks.
post #22 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by skittlebrau79 View Post


Also, anybody that thinks this deal is about NBC is not paying attention. This deal is about the NBC properties. NBC owns more cable networks than anybody else, and Comcast is a cable company. This deal is about USA, the highest rated cable network, The Weather Channel, and NBC Universal Studios, which produces the TV shows for USA and NBC and some other networks.

That is a great observation. In fact NBC itself is the 'dog' in this portfolio of assets (e.g., while all of NBC-U made an operating profit of ~1.5B in 2009, but NBC itself is rumored to have lost $400 million).

In addition, the implied $30B valuation for NBC-U is on the high side, therefore every incremental dollar of revenue and cost synergies will matter to justify the price paid. To ignore or sideline the emerging giant in digital distribution (Apple) would be financial harakiri for Comcast.
post #23 of 65
Apple saved the music industry from self destruction. Those fat, lazy-ass, money hungry music label companies needed someone to kick them in the ass and tell them how people want to get there music! And Apple (Steve Jobs) showed them how, even though they were crying, kicking and screaming like little girls the whole way. I really hate companies like NBC and Comcast! I hope one day we will have the choice to pick and choose what and when we want to watch our content. A-la-carte style. It is time. The internet has provided us with the medium and these "Big" companies are pissing in there pants!! Sorry so blunt! I just really hate these guys!!
post #24 of 65
We can all thank the Bush Administration for allowing all these monster mergers to take place. It was once against the law for a cable company to own a TV station or a phone company or a newspaper. Comcast is now an active participant in every type of media.

What purpose do these mergers serve to the public? Absolutely none. It reduces jobs, stifles competition, limits choice and destroys innovation. It does nothing but enrich a handful of greedy bastards. So much for democracy and freedom of choice in America.

Washing should block this monster merger. It is a venomous octopus and must be killed. Write your congress man/woman, contact the FCC and say NO to greed.
post #25 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by OC4Theo View Post

Write your congress man/woman, contact the FCC and say NO to greed.

Agreed.
I have actually written them all, including John Hall, my rep in the House. It would be advantageous for everyone, if we could legislate the "pipes" from the "content". We tried that once, and failed. With a little history lesson and looking at what pretty much every other country on the planet has done, we in the States could succeed in ridding the monopolies. All it takes is some bitching and grumbling from the people.
You all know you are on the internet in forums bitching throughout the day; just pen those complaints in to your Representatives and Senators. It's not that hard.
post #26 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

"SyFy"?! or SciFi?! geez.

They changed their name when they started showing less and less sci fi shows (like showing professional wrestling). One day they'll be like MTV not playing music anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post

The article seems to completely avoid what I thought was one of the basic questions in journalism - why? Why exactly would Comcast tell Apple to take a hike if approached with this deal? Maybe it's something obvious to the States-men, but us syrup-suckers can't always keep up.

I though it was kinda obvious. If everyone gets their content over the internet they can cancel their $100/month cable service. If Comcast can keep popular channels like NBC, USA, and SyFy hard to access via the internet (ie, no subscriptions), then people will need to keep their cable subscriptions.
post #27 of 65
TV execs need to get real. Whether they like it or not, their goods will be available for FREE online from some source. At least with iTunes they can charge for their product and tap in to a segment of the population that actually pays for "intellectual media" (compared to most others).

As a consumer, I'd hate to have to go to different sites to download or stream different shows. iTunes works.
post #28 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by gimpymw View Post

What makes you think that hulu will remain free? Drug dealers always give the first taste for free.

Hulu is NOT free... sure, you don't pay money, but you pay in time and brain damage from the insipid commercials they force you to sit through; there is no way to fast forward through them or otherwise avoid them. It's completely set up to protect their advertising revenues. And yes, eventually they'll start charging a subscription fee to use their service at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OC4Theo View Post

We can all thank the Bush Administration for allowing all these monster mergers to take place. It was once against the law for a cable company to own a TV station or a phone company or a newspaper. Comcast is now an active participant in every type of media.

What purpose do these mergers serve to the public? Absolutely none. It reduces jobs, stifles competition, limits choice and destroys innovation. It does nothing but enrich a handful of greedy bastards. So much for democracy and freedom of choice in America.

Washing should block this monster merger. It is a venomous octopus and must be killed. Write your congress man/woman, contact the FCC and say NO to greed.

Agreed.

My wife and I have been using "comcastic" as a derogatory term for some time now, to indicate crappiness, shittiness, worthlessness, over-blown and over-hyped products/people/places/things that claim to be great but really are just shitty either because of their inherent nature or because of how the company that makes them does business. Comcast fits all these to a T.
post #29 of 65
A $30 a month subscription is expensive. I'll stick with my DVR and Comcast cable service which is a much better deal. If it were $15 a month similar to Netflix then I'd be all over it.

I only pay $9.95 for Netflix and get many TV series to choose from. Maybe not the latest but good enough.
post #30 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorotea View Post

Just remember a lot of government agencies have to Ok this deal before it is done.

Yeah, some of the same idiots that allowed Sirius to takeover and destroy XM Radio.
post #31 of 65
If broadcast commercials were as simple as Hulu's. It's a short break of 30 seconds. Not 5 30 second commercials per break - one.

Frankly, I use Hulu, Netflix, and precious little of iTunes because of the cost. I have purchased TV shows when i wasn't patient enough to wait, but now I'm in the habit of waiting up to a year to watch it on NetFlix.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowser View Post

Hulu is NOT free... sure, you don't pay money, but you pay in time and brain damage from the insipid commercials they force you to sit through; there is no way to fast forward through them or otherwise avoid them. It's completely set up to protect their advertising revenues. And yes, eventually they'll start charging a subscription fee to use their service at all.



Agreed.

My wife and I have been using "comcastic" as a derogatory term for some time now, to indicate crappiness, shittiness, worthlessness, over-blown and over-hyped products/people/places/things that claim to be great but really are just shitty either because of their inherent nature or because of how the company that makes them does business. Comcast fits all these to a T.
post #32 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post


I though it was kinda obvious. If everyone gets their content over the internet they can cancel their $100/month cable service. If Comcast can keep popular channels like NBC, USA, and SyFy hard to access via the internet (ie, no subscriptions), then people will need to keep their cable subscriptions.

Yes, that ever-increasing cable bill for excessive programming availability has changed my viewing habits in favor of the internet or some other form of targeted access. I've already reduced my cable service. Pay-Per-View as an extra? Forget it.

Also, IMO, Comcast has a hard-nosed culture: constant blaring about teaser rates, even using a fake news anchor for self-promotion. So, how long can NBC News maintain their journalistic integrity? After all, old-style 'hard news' doesn't sell, right? Will this company keep a loss-leader as is?

Nullis in verba -- "on the word of no one"

 

 

 

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Nullis in verba -- "on the word of no one"

 

 

 

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post #33 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by WPLJ42 View Post

Yeah, some of the same idiots that allowed Sirius to takeover and destroy XM Radio.


I just tried to access NBC and NBC Universal Studios shows on iTunes and a message popped up saying "The item you've requested is not currently availablee in the US Store".

I can access other networks and studios. hmmmm.......
post #34 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by technohermit View Post

You all know you are on the internet in forums bitching throughout the day; just pen those complaints in to your Representatives and Senators. It's not that hard.

Yes and write it on a stack of $100 bills. That way you may have a chance of the politicians paying as much attention to you as they do to all the well funded media industry lobbyists who assail them every day (and whose lapdogs and hand-puppets the politicians are).
post #35 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mplaisance View Post

Apple saved the music industry from self destruction. Those fat, lazy-ass, money hungry music label companies needed someone to kick them in the ass and tell them how people want to get there music! And Apple (Steve Jobs) showed them how, even though they were crying, kicking and screaming like little girls the whole way. I really hate companies like NBC and Comcast! I hope one day we will have the choice to pick and choose what and when we want to watch our content. A-la-carte style. It is time. The internet has provided us with the medium and these "Big" companies are pissing in there pants!! Sorry so blunt! I just really hate these guys!!


Magnificent statement....I think you nailed the sentiments of most of the people on this thread!
post #36 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woode View Post

... But at what point does Apple become the "network" if they are the gateway between production companies and viewers? Could that even happen? Does Apple ever say "no" to indie labels (or others) for certain artists/content on iTunes today? I guess as long as Apple isn't saying "We'll take this series/show/program, but that other one isn't worth our server space," then it would work. But if they end up killing good programs the way networks do now, then we're no better off.

Nah, think about it a bit more. Why do networks have to be so ruthless about killing programs? What is their scarce resource? Time slots! One network can only broadcast one show at 8pm on Thursday night, so they NEED to be ruthless about killing stuff that doesn't get a lot of viewers. That's a motivation to acquire cable channels, as a venue to broadcast more content.

But with Apple's internet-on-demand delivery, anyone can watch (or download and wait) any show at any time, and it doesn't matter to Apple if 100 people download the same show or if they download 100 different shows. So they why would they kill, or even disallow programs? Unless a show was super hate-ridden or racist or something equally obnoxious (and ALL broadcast/cable operators have to deal with that), Apple would want to have as much content as possible. Ultimately they could become THE place for TV-holics to 'live'.

I see a future in which SOMEONE (maybe Apple, maybe another company) bridges the gap between the traditional-cable/networks and YouTube. A middle ground in which quality content of 30-60 minutes (uh, make that 22-42 minutes, but I digress) is available without "channel" or time slots. And open to anyone who has the means to produce video. Cable with some of the on-demand is edging into that model, but there's still limited content supply.
No Matte == No Sale :-(
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No Matte == No Sale :-(
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post #37 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

"SyFy"?! or SciFi?! geez.

I hadn't realized they'd changed their name until one day I was searching for a show on iTMS. Used to be SciFi, now it's SyFy. But I'll agree with geez.
post #38 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blah64 View Post

I see a future in which SOMEONE (maybe Apple, maybe another company) bridges the gap between the traditional-cable/networks and YouTube. A middle ground in which quality content of 30-60 minutes (uh, make that 22-42 minutes, but I digress) is available without "channel" or time slots. And open to anyone who has the means to produce video. Cable with some of the on-demand is edging into that model, but there's still limited content supply.

This will never happen until somebody finds a way to make money off it. Quality television programs (read: WAY above YouTube quality programs) cost a crapton of money to produce, let alone develop and release. The average PRODUCTION cost of a 1 hour drama has exceeded $1 million an episode for years now; some dramas are easily exceeding $2 million an episode. In fact several shows on TV lose money but the networks make it up through DVD sales, syndication rights and cross promotion deals.
I don't see how Apple, or any other media company, can make $30 million a year (the cost for 24 episodes of 24) giving away content on-demand with few or no commercials.
The model is broken, but nobody has come up with a better one.
post #39 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

Yes and write it on a stack of $100 bills. That way you may have a chance of the politicians paying as much attention to you as they do to all the well funded media industry lobbyists who assail them every day (and whose lapdogs and hand-puppets the politicians are).

All I'm saying is write a proper complaint. Send it in. If everyone did it, hell, if half of people who believe in it did that, it might make news. And if that happens, politicians hate being on the wrong side of the public more than they like lobbyist money.
On a side note, anyone catch the FCC chairman on Digg?
post #40 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post

Apple = Disney = ABC

Comcast = NBC

FOX = slant

MSNBC = BIGGER SLANT


There I said enough

And now Fox will have to infiltrate Comcast shareholder meetings! And GE will "return" to being republican because they all love big businesses, and now Comcast will be ridiculed as being socialist.
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