Today, Comcast is expected to close the deal on a 51% stake in NBC Universal. Comcast is the cable service provider in 25% of the homes in the United States. For NBC, the oldest broadcaster of record, this is the end of an era. Comcast, known primarily as a provider of the pipeline, will now be holder of one of the largest baskets of broadcast and cable channels ever to exist. NBC Universal includes such favorites as SciFi, Bravo, Oxygen, and USA, as well as the entire line of MSNBC/CNBC channels. NBC Universal also owns the Weather Channel and NBC Broadcast Television programming.
Until now, Comcast owned the Golf Channel and E! Entertainment Television. So grabbing onto the NBC Universal package slingshots them into a whole new category. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. NBC broadcast television has been falling in the ratings for several years, and is now considered 4th by popularity. Their cable offerings, however, fare much better, with much higher ratings. How many of us watch the Weather Channel every day (even if online)? This is big beans for Comcast.
What concerns me, to some extent, is when the pipe providers also become the content providers. In my mind, this is a potential conflict of interest, and may not always play out positively for the end user/watcher. Only time will tell on this one.