It’s official: Comcast Corporation (CMCSA - Free Report) is the world’s biggest media company as of the end of 2015, beating out rivals like The Walt Disney Company (DIS - Free Report) , Time Warner Cable , and 21st Century Fox (FOXA - Free Report) . It is still the United States’ largest broadband provider, with over 22 million high-speed Internet customers. Comcast has an impressive market value of $147.8 billion thanks to $68.8 billion in sales, $8.4 billion in profits, and almost $160 billion in assets.
Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Philadelphia, Comcast has created a media empire over the years due to smart acquisitions and media asset-building. Let’s take a look at what the media and entertainment conglomerate owns and operates.
Comcast has a big foothold in the entertainment industry, with many of its assets falling in film and television.
Comcast owns popular film studio Universal Studios Inc; it is considered one of Hollywood’s “Big 6” film studios along with Warner Bros. Entertainment, The Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, Fox Filmed Entertainment, and Paramount Motion Pictures Group.
The studio has produced classic films like To Kill A Mockingbird, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, and Schindler’s List, as well as the recent blockbuster Jurassic World and 2016 awards season nominee Steve Jobs.
Universal operates smaller film studio divisions including Illumination Entertainment, art house flim-centered Focus Features, Working Title Films, Universal Animation Studios, Universal Interactive, Universal Pictures International, and Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
Its most prominent media company is NBCUniversal, which operates:
the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network (includes NBC Entertainment, NBC News, NBC Sports, and NBC Studios)
the NBCUniversal Television Group (Universal Television, NBCUniversal Television Distribution, and NBC-owned local television stations around the country)
NBCUniversal Cable (includes popular channels like Bravo, E!, and USA Network, as well as CNBC, MSNBC, mun2, Chiller, SyFy, Sleuth, and Universal HD)
The company also owns The Weather Channel Companies with private equity firm Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group (BX - Free Report) . This includes the popular Weather Channel and its interactive components www.weather.com and mobile and desktop versions.
Through NBCUniversal, Comcast dabbles heavily in sports under NBC Sports Group. This includes the television channels Universal Sports Network, NBCSN, and the Golf Channel, in addition to Comcast SportsNet.
Other sports-themed ventures include the MLB Network in partnership with Major League Baseball and other providers, SportsNet New York in partnership with the New York Mets and Time Warner, Comcast Sports Southeast/Charter Sports Southeast in partnership with Charter Communications (CHTR - Free Report) , and the NHL Network in partnership with the National Hockey League.
The company also has a large international presence with Universal Networks International. The division is comprised of:
LAPTV (Latin America Pay Television Service), a television company that Comcast co-owns with Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures , MGM Studios, and News Corp-owned 20th Century Fox
Brazil-based Telecine, which is co-owned with Globosat Canais, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, MGM, and 20th Century Fox
Universal Channel Latin America and Universal Channel Brazil
SyFy Latin America
Telemundo, which includes many local Hispanic television networks
Comcast did not become the country’s biggest cable provider without acquiring valuable companies along the way.
In 1985, Comcast, along with American Television and Communications (a Time Inc subsidiary), Tele-Communications, Daniels & Associates, and the Century Southwest Communications Corporation, bought Group W Cable, a division of Westinghouse Electric Corporation.
In 2001, it bought the largest cable television operator at the time, AT&T Broadband, a division of AT&T Inc (T), for over $44 billion.
In 2005, Comcast announced that it had bought Susquehanna Communications, a South Central Pennsylvania-based cable television and broadband services provider and unit of the former Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff company, for $775 million in cash. This gave the company about 230,000 basic cable customers, 71,000 digital cable customers, and 86,000 high-speed Internet customers.
In 2006, in partnership with Time Warner, Comcast purchased the majority the floundering Adelphia Communications Corporation, which was the fifth largest cable company in the U.S. before filing for bankruptcy.
And in 2010, Comcast began promoting its Xfinity service that includes what they call their “triple play” services: digital cable, cable Internet access, and cable telephone. Today, most of Comcast’s cable services have changed names to reflect the Xfinity brand: Comcast Digital Cable has been renamed "Xfinity TV,” Comcast Digital Voice became "Xfinity Voice,” and Comcast High-Speed Internet has been renamed "Xfinity Internet.”
Other Business Units
In order to cash in on digital trends, Comcast created a division called Comcast Interactive Media; this unit includes XFINITY.com and xfintityTV.com, popular movie ticket service Fandango, entertainment ticketing company New Era Tickets, online video publishing company thePlatform, and StreamSage.
The company also owns and operates sports and entertainment venues under the division Comcast Spectacor. Through this unit, Comcast owns the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL; it also owns and manages the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
As part of its NBCUniversal division, Comcast owns and operates its theme park subsidiary Universal Parks and Resorts. There are currently four running parks: Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles; Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida; Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, and Universal Studios Singapore in Singapore.
Comcast partnered with Walt Disney Co and 21st Century Fox to form Hulu, a video-streaming entity that is Netflix’s (NFLX - Free Report) biggest competitor.
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