What Does NBComcast Mean for Hulu and TV Everywhere?


The world awaits an outcome on the will-they-or-won’t-they nuptials that is cable giant Comcast (s CMCSA) and network/studio NBC Universal (s GE) (negotiations will probably take a long time since Comcast presumably told GE to wait at their offices between the hours of noon and 5:00 p.m.), here are some outstanding questions worth asking:

What would this mean for Hulu?
NBC is co-owner of the premium content portal which has been a driving force in getting certain tech-savvy folks to cut their cable cord. At this point, the question is more flashy (since everyone hearts Hulu) than substantive. With Disney (s DIS) hopping on board the Hulu choo-choo earlier this year, the site has access to NBC content (including cable channels Bravo, SyFy and USA) for the next year and a half (roughly). That’s a lifetime in web time, so who knows what the role of Hulu will be then as technologies and content continue to evolve. Still, it would set Comcast in partial control of one of its “enemies.”

What about TV Everywhere?
Comcast went on a content partnering tear this summer, lining up a number of cable programmers for its On Demand Online flavor of viewer authentication, absent from that list are any NBCU properties. SyFy, however, is a partner in Time Warner Cable’s (s TWC) TV Everywhere trial. It’s an insult to no-brainers to say that NBC properties going to On Demand Online is a no-brainer.

The two questions are inextricably linked. With Comcast calling the shots, it would be a good bet that Hulu would wind up with the short end of the content stick. Comcast is not a big fan of paying cable programmers big fees and having those programmers put shows online for free. While we aren’t privy to the terms of the deal between NBC and Hulu, if Comcast can’t flat out yank NBC content from Hulu, it might have the ability to make content windows and restrictions so onerous as to make the Hulu experience suck, and make Comcast’s On Demand Online a virtual (and visual) shangri-la … as long as you’re a subscriber.


Rich Reader

Wrong question, Chris.

The right question is what does Hulu and TV Everywhere mean for NBComcast?

Answer: a deal that dies at the hands of anti-trust pressure.

Bob in SF

Sounds like the standard way that a company can attack the competition: buy them and try to kill their product. Of course, it’s not in the consumer’s interest for this to happen. Merging an old-tech company like cable with a new-tech competitor based on web distribution only hinders progress. It’s a way to stifle innovation and squeeze as much $ as possible out of the old methods.

What’s a cable company without a video cable? As all media makes its way online, including the video previously known as “television”, the “cable” becomes just another form of ISP. We’ve already seen AT&T move in the opposite direction (internet to U-verse). Since cable is just a distributor, why would “cable programmers” (media producers) give cable companies a piece of the pie when they could sell their content to any ISP and consumer without restriction? Of course, you have the likes of Walmart distributors that can squeeze out smaller businesses, but with the internet, media producers could reach the consumer directly and leave an open, functioning market which would best serve everyone.

A Noun

I told you…months ago…Comcast is going to do everything in its power to either control or shut down viewing free TV on the internet.

They only want you to be able to watch online if you also subscribe to the channel with them. But no, nobody listened to me…

…and here we are.

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