NASCAR Drivers Are Doing a Lap Around City Hall

NASCAR Philadelphia lap

Drivers from the NASCAR XFINITY Series will promote an upcoming race at Pocono Raceway by doing a lap around Philadelphia City Hall at noon today.

The XFINITY Series is NASCAR’s second-level circuit, though racers from the top level also often compete in it. Pocono Raceway — known as the “Tricky Triangle” due to its design — hosts the Pocono 250 on Saturday, June 6th. The clumsily- named Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400, on the primary NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, follows the next day. Read more »

The Phillie Phanatic Will be Landscaping at Central High Saturday

Comcast

This Saturday, thousands of Comcast employees across the country will, alongside their family and friends, take part in Comcast Cares Day, which is the a community service project that is the largest single-day volunteer event in the country. This year, 100,000 people are expected to take part across the country, with around 6,000 in the greater Philadelphia region alone. Read more »

Comcast Helps Future-Proof Itself with Dreamworks Purchase

Comcast - Dreamworks mashup

Photo illustration | Dan McQuade

Time was, Comcast made its money by selling you cable television. They’d bundle you a package of channels, try to sell you a premium movie channel or two, tack on fees for box and remote rental, and reap the rewards. Cable was almost the only way you could see every Sixers game or the latest Tales from the Crypt episode.

This model is going away. 2013 was the first year the pay-TV industry lost subscribers. You can buy HBO separately from any cable package with HBO Now. You can watch a massive library of TV shows with subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu or other services. You can buy TV show episodes à la carte from various services. Comcast says it will soon allow you go to sans cable box and just use a forthcoming app. Comcast still makes a bulk of its money off selling people cable (and Internet and, for some reason, landline phones). But one day, cord-cutters are going to significantly cut into that business.

Comcast didn’t get to build the tallest building in Philadelphia by being stupid: The Roberts family has recognized this. It was one of the prime reasons the company purchased NBC Universal in 2011; becoming more of a content provider was so important to Comcast that the company bought the remaining 49 percent of NBCUniversal (the company dropped the space in its name under Comcast ownership) just two years later.

Along with NBC, owned-and-operated local networks, cable channels, production and movie companies, Comcast also acquired several theme parks in the NBCU acquisition. As the cable model slowly whittles away, Comcast will need more ways to get you to fork over your hard-earned cash.

As such, yesterday Comcast announced its intention to buy DreamWorks Animation, the studio behind the hit movie franchises Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. Read more »

It’s Happening: Comcast Is Buying DreamWorks

comcast-dreamworks-940x540

NBCUniversal, which is part of the mighty Comcast Corporation, announced the purchase of Dreamworks Animation today, in a major deal for the Philadelphia-based cable and entertainment conglomerate.

DreamWorks Animation is a production company that makes animated films, TV shows, live entertainment and related products. You know it from animated features like Shrek and Madagascar.

According to a statement from Comcast, DreamWorks has an equity value of about $3.8 billion, and DreamWorks stockholders will receive $41 per share. The boards of each company and the majority shareholder of DreamWorks have all approved the agreement, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Read more »

Now There Is Free Wi-Fi at Every Wawa

Comcast Tower via iStockphoto.com

Comcast Tower via iStockphoto.com

While customer service has long been the Achilles heel of Comcast’s reputation, they might’ve taken a step in the right direction by teaming with one of the most beloved brands in Philly. Comcast Business and Wawa announced that Xfinity Wi-Fi will be available in every Wawa store beginning … today.

It will come up on your screen as “xfinitywifi” and is completely free. Not bad. Now Wawa will really be the perfectly anti-social convenience store — you don’t have to talk to people to order your sandwich and you won’t have to waste data on your phone while you’re waiting for it. Read more »

Hate Your Cable Box? Comcast Says There’ll Soon Be an App for That

iStockphoto.com | DonNichols

iStockphoto.com | DonNichols

Last week, President Barack Obama came out in support of an FCC proposal to free cable subscribers from the dreaded cable boxes they have to lease from their cable providers. This week, Comcast announced that cable boxes are essentially old news anyway. The Philadelphia cable giant announced its new Xfinity TV Partner Program, which it claims will allow customers to get Xfinity service directly on their TVs and electronic devices without a set-top box at all.

The app will essentially do all of the things a set-top box does — provide live TV, on-demand video, and DVR recordings, but will expand the range of devices customers can use to get their Xfinity service. This includes Smart TVs, a Roku streaming player, or a Roku TV.

Mark Hess, Comcast’s senior vice president of business and industry affairs, said in a statement that Comcast customers “should be able to access their Xfinity cable service wherever they want, whenever they want, on whatever device they want.”  Read more »

Comcast’s New Harry Potter Attraction Could Rival Disney

harry potter

We’ve long known that Comcast is becoming a leader in the theme park industry, thanks to its ownership of the Universal Studios theme parks. But how big can the business become for the Philadelphia-based cable giant?

We’re about to find out.

Universal Studios Hollywood on Thursday opened its latest attraction, “Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” and observers are saying it presents a real challenge to nearby Disneyland. Read more »

Comcast-Backed Firm Invests in Groupon

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Honestly, we’d long thought Groupon had passed from being an exciting new thing to a stale joke about spending too much money to buy a coupon for a product or experience you’ll never end up using. But apparently Groupon’s still a thing.

We know this because this week a new company called Atairos announced it’s making a $250 million investment in Groupon. Why this matters in Philadelphia: Atairos was created by former Comcast CFO Michael J. Angelakis — and Comcast has a 10-year agreement to be the Atairos’ sole outside investor. Read more »

California Bill Would Let Customers Cancel Comcast With One Click

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

A California legislator has introduced a bill that would let Comcast customers quickly and easily cancel their service online.

The proposal is fallout from the notorious 2014 incident in which a Comcast “customer retention” representative hassled Ryan Block, a former tech journalist, who was trying to have his Internet service disconnected. The incident proved a final straw of sorts for the Philadelphia-based company, which months later created a “vice president for customer service” position and began an ongoing effort to improve its frankly lousy reputation on that front.

But Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) doesn’t want to leave the issue to Comcast to resolve. His proposal would let customers who sign up for a service online also cancel the service the same way. Read more »

Comcast: NBC Has $1B of Ad Sales for Olympics

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

One big boon for Comcast in its acquisition of NBCUniversal has been NBC’s ongoing ownership of American television rights to the Olympic Games. The company demonstrated why this week, announcing the network had sold $1 billion worth of ads for this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

The event “is on pace for the most national ad sales for any network for any media event in U.S. history,” NBC Sports said in a blog post on Tuesday. By comparison, ad sales for the London games didn’t reach the $1 billion mark until just two days before those games started. The Rio games don’t start until August.  Read more »

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