Comcast Corp. (CMCSA - Free Report) is the one of the world’s biggest media companies, ranking among peers like The Walt Disney Company (DIS - Free Report) , 21st Century Fox (FOXA - Free Report) , Viacom , and now, tech giants like Facebook (FB - Free Report) and Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL - 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 almost $180 billion. 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. 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 blockbusters Get Out andThe Fate of the Furious. Its highest-grossing movie to-date is 2015’s Jurassic World.
Universal operates smaller film studio divisions including Illumination Entertainment, art house-centered Focus Features, Working Title Films, Universal Animation Studios, Universal Interactive, Universal Pictures International, and Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
Comcast’s NBCUniversal division acquired DreamWorks Animation studio for roughly $3.8 billion last year. While DreamWorks is best known for its hit animated franchises Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, much of the studio's value to Comcast is in the so-called “long tail” of amusement park integrations, merchandise, and other synergistic deals.
Its most prominent media company is NBCUniversal, which owns and operates a slew of television network companies.
In its portfolio, NBCUniversal has the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network, which includes NBC Entertainment, NBC News, NBC Sports, and NBC Studios. It also owns the NBCUniversal Television Group (Universal Television, NBCUniversal Television Distribution, and NBC-owned local television stations around the country), as well as NBCUniversal Cable (includes popular channels like Bravo, E!, USA Network, 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). 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 consists of the Universal Sports Network, NBCSN, and the Golf Channel stations, 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 the LAPTV (Latin America Pay Television Service), a television company that Comcast co-owns with Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures, MGM Studios, and News Corp (NWSA - Free Report) -owned 20th Century Fox.
Universal Networks International also owns the Brazil-based Telecine, which is co-owned with Globosat Canais, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, MGM, and 20th Century Fox, as well as Universal Channel Latin America, Universal Channel Brazil, SyFy Latin America, and 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. TIME 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 (T - Free Report) , for over $44 billion.
Then, 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 partnership with Time Warner in 2006, Comcast purchased the majority of the floundering Adelphia Communications Corporation, which was the fifth largest cable company in the U.S. before filing for bankruptcy.
Comcast began promoting its Xfinity service in 2010. This 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. For example, 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 Disney and 21st Century Fox to form Hulu, a video-streaming entity that is a burgeoning competitor to Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) and Amazon’s (AMZN - Free Report) Prime. At this year’s Emmys ceremony, Hulu became the first streaming platform to take home the coveted award for Outstanding Drama Series for its critically-acclaimed show The Handmaid's Tale, in addition to winning in seven other categories.
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