Comcast’s merger with NBC is now complete. Comcast announced Wednesday that it was buying the remaining shares of NBCUniversal from General Electric, making Comcast the largest cable company in the United States.
Comcast paid $16.7 billion to buy the remainder of General Electric’s stake in NBCUniversal. The company also purchased NBCUniversal’s properties at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and CNBC headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey for $1.4 billion. The merger makes Comcast the owner of Universal Pictures, one of America’s six major film studios, and leaves the company with Universal Parks and Resorts as well. This is the latest in Comcast’s long history of acquisitions since its founding in 1963.
In a public statement, Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said:
“This is an exciting day for Comcast as we have agreed to accelerate the purchase of NBCUniversal … The management team at GE has been a wonderful partner during the past two years and their support has been very valuable. Our decision to acquire GE’s ownership is driven by our sense of optimism for the future prospects of NBCUniversal and our desire to capture future value that we hope to create for our shareholders.”
In the wake of the internet’s growing challenge to the traditional cable subscription model, Comcast’s buyout of NBC shows the company’s confidence in the strength of the cable market. The Comcast merger gives Comcast ownership of the NBC broadcast network and several capable channels including Bravo, CNBC, E!, MSNBC, Telemundo, and USA.
NBCUniversal’s many cable channels are currently profitable. While NBCUniversal’s broadcast network has not performed as strongly in recent years, NBC’s rating has suggested a possible turnaround. Despite the encroachment of internet media, television remains a growing and profitable business overall. Comcast currently has 22 million cable viewers nationwide.
Comcast remains one of the nation’s largest high-speed Internet and phone providers. The company provides cable television, Internet, and phone to residential customers under its XFINITY brand. Its Internet user base is growing rapidly, with 1.2 million users picked up last year as more consumers make the transition to cable broadband. Comcast now has over 50 million customers across its three services.
Many critics have opposed the purchase, concerned that selling a major content creation company to a major content distribution network would result in a dangerous balance of power with Comcast being able to withhold its newly acquired content from its competitors. After Comcast pledged not to adopt such a business strategy, federal regulators approved of the merger.