Comcast Today: Is NBC Turning Around?

Plus: The Economist weighs in against the Time Warner Merger.

Today’s Comcastic headlines:

• “The Blacklist” has become a centerpiece of Mr. Greenblatt’s hard-fought turnaround of NBC, and keeping the show on the air as long as possible is a top priority. Alongside “The Voice” and Sunday Night Football, “The Blacklist” has helped propel the network, owned by Comcast Corp., into the unusual position of leading the Big Four networks among the 18- to 49-year-olds that matter most to advertisers. But it takes more than one new hit to turn around a broadcast network, especially one that has been in the doldrums for most of a decade. While the smallest contributor to NBCUniversal profit, NBC is making progress financially. Although the recent ratings gains haven’t filtered through yet, NBCUniversal’s broadcast division posted operating cash flow of $345 million in 2013, compared with $118 million in 2010. (Wall Street Journal)


• The Economist editorializes against the Comcast-Time Warner merger: “If the takeover is approved, Comcast would control 20 of the top 25 cable markets, according to MoffettNathanson, a research firm. Antitrust officials will need to consider Comcast’s status as a monopsony (a buyer with disproportionate power), when it comes to negotiations with programmers, whose channels it pays to carry. Comcast could refuse to carry certain channels, or use its clout to insist on even greater price discounts or to favour its own content over that of others. For consumers the deal would mean the union of two companies that are already reviled for their poor customer service and high prices. Greater size will fix neither problem. Mr Cohen has said, “We’re certainly not promising that customer bills are going to go down or even that they’re going to increase less rapidly.” Between 1995 and 2012 the average price of a cable subscription increased at a compound annual rate of more than 6%. (Economist)

Transactions: Securities trades recently reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission by officers, directors and principal shareholders of corporations based or having sizable employment in the Philadelphia area. Titles are as reported to the SEC. Arthur R. Block, general counsel, sold 1,685 shares at $51.58 on March 10, and now directly holds 28,836 shares. David L. Cohen, officer, sold 31,741 shares at $51.26 to $51.33 on March 4, and now directly holds 455,175 shares. (Philly.com)

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