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Old 01-19-2011, 05:20 PM   #1
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Default Comcast could rival ESPN

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Comcast's (CMCSA) takeover of NBC Universal was approved, as expected, by the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday, creating a media and entertainment colossus with a huge footprint in television, movies, the Internet and theme parks. The deal will also create a sports behemoth that could challenge the dominance of Walt Disney's (DIS) ESPN.

Comcast already owns the Golf Channel, which reaches 120 million homes; Versus, which reaches 75 million homes; and 14 local networks that deliver 2,400 sporting events annually to more than 50 million homes with cable and satellite. It also owns the Philadelphia 76ers professional basketball team and the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, as well as the the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, where the two teams play.

NBC Sports has broadcast more Olympics than any other network. It owns the rights to the Olympic Games through 2012 and also has aired 16 Super Bowls. Its properties include NBC Sunday Night Football, the U.S. Open Championship, The Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Wimbledon, French Open and the Stanley Cup Final. ESPN counts an estimated 100 million domestic subscribers, including both its main channel and ESPN 2, and often carries the most highly rated programs on cable. Both companies also have formidable presences online.

"The sports-media monster that comes from Comcast-NBCU has the potential to be the biggest alternative to ESPN in the history of sports media," ESPN.com's Dan Shanof writes on his blog. "No one will ever replace ESPN, but this might offer another comprehensive high-end option."

Behemoth Sportscast Rivalry Begins

Last year, Richard Sandomir of The New York Times went further, arguing ... "if Comcast is serious financially and qualitatively, it and NBC could turn Versus into a credible rival. It could turn Versus into a network that would provide cable operators (like Comcast) leverage in negotiations with ESPN. It might also make leagues giddy, knowing they could potentially juggle large-scale bids from Versus."

ESPN is a cash cow for Burbank, Calif.-based Disney. The company's Media Networks business, which includes the sports media network, earned $5.13 billion in operating income in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 2. It has been expanding into local markets, challenging Comcast's foothold in local markets. A spokesman for ESPN could not be reached for comment.

One of the first battles between the two big rivals may be over hockey.

According to SBNation, the NHL's broadcast deal with Versus and NBC expires at the end of this year. ESPN, which wanted nothing to do with the NHL after the 2004 lockout, now wants hockey back because of its growing popularity along with its already-crowded line-up of programming ranging from the NFL to professional bowling.

"The NHL will become the foundation for whatever (NBC Sports head DIck) Ebersol, NBC and Comcast hope to build at Versus, and with that, the League will be in a very enviable position," according to the website.

A Deal Like No Other

Under the terms of the deal, Philadelphia-based Comcast will merge its $7.25 billion worth of cable channels -- including E! Entertainment Television, Versus and the Style Network -- with General Electric's (GE) NBC Universal assets, which are valued at $30 billion and include the NBC television network, Universal Studios and MSNBC. Comcast will wind up with a 51% interest in the new media conglomerate and will give it huge power to decide the content Americans read and watch. Critics say the deal goes too far.

"Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal is a transaction like no other that has come before this Commission -- ever," FCC Commissioner Michael Capps, who cast the sole vote against the deal set to close later this month, said in a press release. "It reaches into virtually every corner of our media and digital landscapes and will affect every citizen in the land. It is new media as well as old; it is news and information as well as sports and entertainment; it is distribution as well as content. And it confers too much power in one company's hands."

Comcast rejects these criticisms, arguing that the transaction is pro-consumer. NBC Universal -- the named will be used by the new company as well -- will be required to take "affirmative steps to foster competition in the video marketplace," increase local coverage and expand children's and Spanish language programming, the FCC says. Moreover, it must provide discounted broadband services to low-income consumers and provide high-speed broadband to schools, libraries and underserved communities.

"This is a proud and exciting day for Comcast," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a press release."Our original vision for the combination remains intact so that consumers will benefit, and our competitors will be treated fairly."

Activists immediately denounced the FCC's 4-to-1 decision, arguing that it placed too few restrictions on Comcast to prevent it from abusing its power at the expense of consumers. Comcast has customers in 39 states and the District of Columbia and reaches close to 24 million homes in the United States. NBC also owns a stake in the online video service, Hulu, as well as 26 local broadcast stations that reach nearly one-third of U.S. households.

Shares of Comcast, the world's largest cable company, grew slightly on the news. The shares have gained more than 37% over the past year. General Electric will reduce its ownership interest in NBC Universal from 80% to 49%. At its closing, the transaction will generate about $8 billion in cash with a small after-tax charge. Shares of the Fairfield, Conn.-based conglomerate were trading down in late afternoon action. Its shares have risen more than 13% over the past 52 weeks.
http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/me...vers/19805893/

Could be interesting if they pull it off.

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Old 01-20-2011, 05:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

It would be interesting but I have ESPN and I know my sportscasters there. No need for new.

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Old 01-21-2011, 09:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

ESPN has become a bunch of pompous asses who are more in love with themselves than actually broadcasting sports or doing hghlights. it's about high time someone gave them a run for their money. Competition is always a good thing.

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Old 01-21-2011, 10:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

I agree but I happen to like those pompus *******s, well Mike and Mike anyway.

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Old 01-21-2011, 11:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

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ESPN has become a bunch of pompous asses who are more in love with themselves than actually broadcasting sports or doing hghlights. it's about high time someone gave them a run for their money. Competition is always a good thing.
I partially agree...I'm just not sure as to how competitive Comcast can make Versus or Universal Sports

ESPN is a BRAND, not just a network...there is a difference

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Old 01-21-2011, 11:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

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I partially agree...I'm just not sure as to how competitive Comcast can make Versus or Universal Sports

ESPN is a BRAND, not just a network...there is a difference
Universal Sports is a bit irrelevant but it's not a bad network. They show all Olympic sports except basketball, soccer and tennis (for obvious reasons) and for some reason they show lacrosse, which is not an Olympic sport. It gives the few people who have access to the network the ability to watch sports that normally aren't on TV.

They've recently been showing the Bud Greenspan documentaries of the prior Olympic games.

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Old 01-21-2011, 11:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

Nice...I just hope Comcast doesn't go too far in trying to secure the NHL deal, they could end up overspending and not having $$$ for anything else

rumors are they are also going after some soccer rights due to some expiring stuff on Fox' Soccer Channel

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Old 01-21-2011, 11:53 AM   #8
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

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Nice...I just hope Comcast doesn't go too far in trying to secure the NHL deal, they could end up overspending and not having $$$ for anything else

rumors are they are also going after some soccer rights due to some expiring stuff on Fox' Soccer Channel
Is the NHL deal with NBC going to expire soon?

Interesting. I wonder if they'd place some soccer on Universal Sports since that channel hosts Olympic sports and soccer is an Olympic sport.

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Old 01-21-2011, 11:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

not sure...I def started watching more when ESPN2 started showing the EPL last year...Versus had some Dakar Rally stuff on as well, thats interesting stuff

Versus now is what ESPN was back in the late 80's - mid 90's...minus bowling

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Old 01-21-2011, 11:56 AM   #10
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

would they get rid of Universal Sports for Versus?

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Old 01-21-2011, 11:58 AM   #11
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

hard to say....not sure what the vision was for Universal Sports...they may rebrand it or start showing Versus stuff there

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Old 01-21-2011, 12:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

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hard to say....not sure what the vision was for Universal Sports...they may rebrand it or start showing Versus stuff there
The plan for Universal Sports was to show Olympic sports outside the Olympics.

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Old 01-21-2011, 12:01 PM   #13
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I did watch a ****load of curling on there

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Old 01-21-2011, 12:09 PM   #14
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

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I did watch a ****load of curling on there
The problem with Universal Sports is that they don't show every Olympic sport, but that's due to other reasons. Basketball is an Olympic sport (although I don't think it should be) and yet they don't show it. ESPN/NBA TV have the NBA, WNBA and all of the international tournaments. Universal Sports did televise the World Championships in Hockey last year, while the NHL playoffs were going on. Soccer would be an interesting add to Universal Sports (although I also don't think Soccer should be an Olympic sport either). NBC shows Wimbledon and I think the British and Australian Open Tennis tournaments, so Universal Sports isn't needed. NBC also has a lot of golf coverage.

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Old 01-21-2011, 12:11 PM   #15
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

ESPN has all the grand slams (tennis) this year, and I think next year

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Old 01-21-2011, 07:00 PM   #16
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

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Nice...I just hope Comcast doesn't go too far in trying to secure the NHL deal, they could end up overspending and not having $$$ for anything else
LOL Do you realize how much money Comcast has? They almost bought Disney (ESPN's parent co.) a few years back.

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Old 01-21-2011, 09:52 PM   #17
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I kind of remember that deal....it would have been something like 40 or 45 percent ownership of Disney...but at the same time Disney bought out ABCs parent company and also had some stuff in the box office hit big so they had the extra $$$ and didn't need the buyout

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Old 01-23-2011, 04:40 PM   #18
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

Sportscenter needs a whooping. Tons of people may hate this deal, as comcast will probably abuse their power...but at least make a channel to slap ESPN around.

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Old 01-23-2011, 10:10 PM   #19
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it'll be a few years before anything like that comes close....Fox Sports tried it with 'National Sports Report', remember that?? yea probably not

ESPN is a BRAND, and something like that is really tough to beat

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Old 01-23-2011, 10:14 PM   #20
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

CNNSI tried it but did not work

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Old 01-23-2011, 10:15 PM   #21
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

and some of those guys ended up going to ESPN soon after

they tried to market it as a 'serious' alternative to SportsCenter, but none of their staff had the access or sources that ESPN folks had

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Old 01-23-2011, 10:19 PM   #22
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

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and some of those guys ended up going to ESPN soon after

they tried to market it as a 'serious' alternative to SportsCenter, but none of their staff had the access or sources that ESPN folks had
I don't remember most of the talent that went to ESPN except Trev Alberts, which did not last long.

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Old 01-24-2011, 12:14 AM   #23
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

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it'll be a few years before anything like that comes close....Fox Sports tried it with 'National Sports Report', remember that?? yea probably not

ESPN is a BRAND, and something like that is really tough to beat
Yeah, Fox Sports already tried to unseat ESPN's Sportscenter, but they didn't succeed. And Fox Sports (as a brand) is more recognizable than Comcast's VS network, and at least as much if not more than NBC Sports. ESPN is the granddaddy of all the 24/7 sports network, and this is why their brand has endured over the decades. I don't think I'd watch Comcast/NBC sports over ESPN, by the way.

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Old 01-24-2011, 10:40 AM   #24
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

and it's not just about the shows, it's about the people you have....guys like Mortensen, Tim Kirkjian have spent years cultivating sources and access

hell Adam Schefter ditched NFL Network HARD for a job at ESPN

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Old 01-24-2011, 10:51 AM   #25
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Default Re: Comcast could rival ESPN

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Sportscenter needs a whooping. Tons of people may hate this deal, as comcast will probably abuse their power...but at least make a channel to slap ESPN around.
How can Comcast abuse their power? They bought a media conglomerate that has a movie studio that cannot make a hit, a television network that is in a dwindling 4th place, and the only cable channels that aren't junk channels in the new NBC Universal are MSNBC, CNBC, E!, the Weather Channel, and USA. With the takeover of NBC Universal, I think that Comcast really has an opportunity to take Vs. out of the junk channel status and really boost it up to a legitimate competitor to ESPN. And actually having competition with ESPN would be a great thing to lower cable bills because ESPN is one of the biggest reasons why cable/satellite bills are going dramatically up.

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