Comcast-NBC Merger Might Not Kill Hulu

By December 04, 2009

After nine months in the conference room, the Comcast-NBC merger was finally officially announced Thursday morning. The new media chimera will be worth approximately $37.25 billion, as reported from NewTeeVee yesterday. With a vertically-integrated control on broadcast, cable and digital assets, many media consumers are worried about the end of our current golden age of free Internet video on sites such as Hulu. Both pre-merger companies have led the way to online video content - Comcast with On-Demand Online, now re-named Fancast Xfinity, and NBC distribution through Hulu.

But contrary to that assumption, these services are expected to change little, according to NewTeeVee . Digital media properties Fancast and were not included in the merger, and will remain part of the cable company's upcoming Xfinity project. Comcast COO Steve Burke says he expects NBC broadcast content to continue to be available in ad-supported format.

Comcast will own 51 percent of the venture, and contribute its cable networks, regional sports networks and other digital media properties valued at while General Electric will own 49 percent.

The new entity will be New York-based, and include three members from Comcast and two from GE on its board of directors. According to NTV, current president and CEO of NBC Universal Jeff Zucker will be chief executive of the joint venture, and will report to Burke.

This barely-minted collaboration is already subject to anti-trust scrutiny, and the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission already have a merger review queued up. One member of Congress, Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis), who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, plans to hold a hearing. He was quoted in The National Law Journal warning, "Antitrust regulators must ensure that all content providers are treated fairly on the Comcast platform, and that Comcast does not get undue advantages in gaining access to programming."

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