) has made an unusual choice this week. It has
decided to acquire
the rest of General Electric's (NYSE:
) stake in NBC at a cost of $16.7 billion. This expensive
purchase will give Comcast full control over NBC and all of its
assets, including a film studio (Universal Pictures), an
amusement park (Universal Studios), and one of the least
successful networks on regular TV.
confirming the acquisition, Comcast said that this deal
"solidifies" its position as a "leading media and technology
"This is an exciting day for Comcast as we have agreed to
accelerate the purchase of NBCUniversal," Brian L. Roberts,
Chairman and CEO, Comcast Corporation, said in a company release.
"…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. … We believe we are in a strong and unique position
to continue to grow and build value in our combined company."
Those are some positive words coming from an executive who
just spent more than $16 billion on a network that
canceled 8 out of 12 new shows
NBC has already canceled two shows this season: Do No Harm and
Animal Practice. The former premiered two weeks ago against CBS'
) Elementary and ABC's (NYSE:
) Scandal. Only
3.12 million people
tuned in, making it one of the lowest-rated premieres of the
season. The show was axed after its second airing dropped to
2.21 million viewers
The network seemed to have a hit on its hands when Animal
Practice debuted last August, but its ratings were heavily
enhanced by the premiere date. Instead of holding the show until
the start of the fall season, NBC aired one episode during the
Olympic Games. This helped acquire an impressive
12.8 million viewers
Animal Practice dropped to
5.19 million viewers
when the series returned in September. The show
continued to decline
, dropping to
3.8 million viewers
by the second week of October, where it held steady until NBC
pulled the plug.
, which analyzes broadcast success and Nielsen (NYSE:
) ratings, three more shows -- 1600 Penn, The New Normal and
Deception -- are "certain to be canceled." Three other shows --
Smash, Whitney and Guys With Kids -- are "likely" to be
30 Rock, one of NBC's most critically acclaimed shows,
experienced steep ratings declines over the past couple of
seasons. NBC responded to these declines by canceling the series.
Alec Baldwin (who played Jack Donaghy) told the network that he
take a 20 percent pay cut
in exchange for an eighth season. NBC declined his request.
The Office is also coming to an end after a couple years of
declining ratings and rehashed storylines. Even Up All Night, the
Christina Applegate comedy that was supposed to bring huge
ratings to NBC, is on TVByTheNumber's "likely to be canceled"
Go On, Matthew Perry's latest sitcom, also benefited from an
Olympic Games premiere, earning
16 million viewers
. When the most recent new episode aired on Tuesday, January 29,
3.95 million viewers
Parenthood, Parks & Recreation, Law & Order: SVU,
Community, Chicago Fire , Grimm and Revolution are the only shows
that TVByTheNumbers believes are "certain to be renewed." Of
those seven shows, only two of them -- Revolution and Chicago
Fire -- are new.
If these estimates are correct, it means that NBC was only
able to save two or three new shows this season. (The third could
be Go On, but that is still a toss-up.)
What does Comcast hope to do with a $30 billion network
(remember: Comcast paid $16.7 billion for the remaining 49
percent stake in the company) that can only produce a couple of
successful shows per year? What will Comcast do with those shows
when their ratings are far below the nearest competitor?
Even the Olympic Games -- NBC's most prized sporting event --
are a risky, a money-losing venture. The network lost
on the Vancouver games in 2010.
Analysts estimated that the company would lose another $100
million on last year's Summer Games in London, but NBC found a
way to break even.
"We are way ahead of where we thought we'd be," NBCUniversal
chief exec Steve Burke told the
In other words, Comcast just invested $16.7 billion in a
company that, at best, knows how to break even.
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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