NBCU Exec Discusses TV Everywhere and Second Screens

NBCUniversal executive VP Lauren Zalaznick spoke at South by Southwest on Tuesday about big picture issues the television industry faces in meeting the evolving tastes and needs of today’s wired consumers. During the Q&A with former CEO of CBS Interactive Quincy Smith, Zalaznick spoke about TV Everywhere authentication services and the second-screen — two digital areas currently in her strategy sights. Continue reading NBCU Exec Discusses TV Everywhere and Second Screens

Comcast to Buy Rest of NBCUniversal from GE in Early Sale

Comcast is acquiring General Electric’s 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal. Teamed with Comcast’s initial 51 percent acquisition two years ago, the new $16.7 billion deal will result in the cable operator’s full ownership of the film and television giant. Comcast is taking a bold gamble, particularly when considering the uncertain direction of the entertainment industry in the midst of digital change and the growing success of services from the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Continue reading Comcast to Buy Rest of NBCUniversal from GE in Early Sale

UBS Global Media: Comcast Execs Discuss Benefits of New Verizon Pact

  • At this week’s UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Comcast executives described “their multi-billion dollar pact with Verizon inked late last week a transformative event in some ways on the scale of acquiring of NBCUniversal,” reports Variety.
  • “Talk about content, you got NBC. And wireless, you got this. In perpetuity,” said CFO Michael Angelakis. “This is a deal forever. We don’t have to invest in building a wireless network. We aren’t going to acquire a wireless network. It’s quite a significant transaction.”
  • The deal to sell wireless spectrum to Verizon will finally enable the quadruple play where customers can receive video, Internet, landline and cell phone service.
  • “Watching a video on your wireless devices, then resuming it in your home. Great new devices with your Comcast (subscription), great new innovations…will come out of that side of the deal,” said Comcast Cable prexy Neil Smit.

Hulu Taken Off the Auction Block: Sale of Video Hub Tabled by Owners

  • After months of bidding, Hulu’s owners — News Corp., NBCUniversal, Disney and Providence Equity Partners — have decided to stop its sale.
  • “Since Hulu holds a unique and compelling strategic value to each of its owners, we have terminated the sale process and look forward to working together to continue mapping out its path to even greater success,” explained the partners in a short statement. “Our focus now rests solely on ensuring that our efforts as owners contribute in a meaningful way to the exciting future that lies ahead for Hulu.”
  • In a related TechCrunch post, it was suggested that media companies saw more value in retaining licensing fees than selling them.
  • Bidders were not willing to pay more for Hulu knowing that the costs for content rights would increase dramatically after the two year period being sold. (Google reportedly bid $4 billion, but wanted streaming rights for longer than the guaranteed “couple of years.”)

All About the Fans: NBC Revamps Apps Based on Audience Feedback

  • Just in time for the fall premiere season, NBC has updated two of its iPad apps. The network has enabled its NBC app to stream full episodes and has added new social features to its NBC Live second screen app.
  • The new NBC Live additions are based on lessons the network has learned about how viewers have been using the app.
  • They noticed, for example, that different shows (scripted, reality and live TV) produce different viewer interaction, which has helped the network decide which shows to focus on inside the app for the new season.
  • People expect to share comments on Facebook and Twitter, and log in via either service (features that have been added to the app).
  • Some users prefer if content and interaction (such as slideshows, video and polls) did not interrupt the app conversation, so the interface has been improved. They also found that during “The Voice” last season, fans wanted to vote for contestants via the app just like they could on NBC.com.
  • Vivi Zigler, president NBCUniversal Digital Entertainment says that there’s “an elegance” to building an app with a specific purpose.
  • As for whether NBC is considering TV Anywhere authentication like Fox, “at this point, it’s not part of the plan,” she said, explaining that NBCU’s distribution arm has been examining that approach.

Judge Enters His Own OVD Condition with Comcast-NBCU Final Judgment

  • Consent from the U.S. Department of Justice for the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger has been approved, but with a new condition.
  • Comcast purchased 51 percent of NBCUniversal from General Electric in January, creating a $30 billion business that includes broadcast, cable networks, movie studios and theme parks.
  • At that time, the Department of Justice said Comcast could acquire NBCUniversal only if it ceded control of Hulu and made stand-alone broadband service available at $49.95 per month for three years, but the settlement still required final approval.
  • Last week, Judge Richard Leon delivered final approval, but stipulated that the federal government would monitor whether rival online video services, such as Hulu or Netflix, demand arbitration to license content from Comcast-NBCU for the next two years.
  • The ability of rivals to obtain programming was one of the key concerns of the DOJ and the FCC during reviews of the merger.
  • “Since neither the Court nor the parties has a crystal ball to forecast how this Final Judgment, along with its arbitration mechanisms, will actually function … I believe that certain additional steps are necessary,” Leon said in a court order.

Amazon Expands its Online Library with NBCUniversal Deal

  • Amazon has announced a deal with NBCUniversal to offer Universal films online, in a move designed to step up competition with services such as Netflix and Hulu.
  • Amazon offers subscribers to its “Prime” program discounts on shipping of products, and free access to an online library of films. The service costs $79 a year.
  • Amazon announced an agreement last week with CBS that expanded its library to more than 8,000 titles. The NBCUniversal deal will grow Amazon’s library to more than 9,000 movies and TV shows (compared to Neflix’s 20,000).
  • Films such as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Being John Malkovich,” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” are part of the deal.

Netflix Announces Content Deal with NBCUniversal

  • On the heels of raising eyebrows regarding increased subscription rates, Netflix offered some good news yesterday when it announced it has renewed its licensing agreement with NBCUniversal.
  • The multi-year agreement includes TV shows such as “The Office” and “30 Rock” in addition to cable programs “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and “Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane” (future seasons will be available on a one-season delay basis).
  • Streaming access to Universal films such as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Motorcycle Diaries” has also been added.
  • “The content buying spree has purportedly been pricey, but Netflix maintains that it will pay for the new shows it acquires rights to by gradually moving customers away from its mail service.”

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