The Comcast/NBC Universal deal, which was formally announced
Dec. 3, has broad implications in both company's ongoing initiatives
in the areas of authentication, addressable advertising and interactive
Acquiring a 51% stake in NBC Universal, now gives Comcast a
27% stake in Hulu. During a conference call with reporters, Comcast CEO/Chairman
Brian Roberts said he does not expect to make any changes anytime soon, noting
that Comcast will still be a minority owner (with Disney, News Corp. and Providence
Equity Partners all having a stake) and that Hulu is very well regarded by
Roberts also says that it is not an "either-or" choice
between Hulu or the authentication idea referred to informally as TV
Everywhere, which Comcast is jumping into using the moniker Xfinity.
"I actually think Hulu and TV Everywhere are very
complementary, there is a place for both," he said.
NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker declined to comment on whether
Hulu would seek a subscription or pay model, though a number of executives who
have sat on Hulu's board have said publicly the site is looking into the
Roberts also praised NBC Universal's handling of content on
the web in general.
"We think the way NBC Universal is distributing its video
content is consistent with the way we would do it," he said. "I think we start
from the premise that during the year it will take to get this deal approved,
NBCU is highly likely to do exactly what we would do [with regards to putting
The new company also creates robust opportunities with
regard to addressable advertising initiatives, said executives at Comcast,
which has joined with the rest of the MSOs on Canoe Ventures, the TV ad
targeting company headed by David Verklin.
"The ability to have those interactive applications and gain
more content and more channels could be great for advertisers," said Comcast
COO Steve Burke, adding that "23 % of the revenue of this new company comes
from ad sales."
Comcast is rolling out EBIF (Enhanced Binary Interchange Format), which enables interactive features
such as voting and polling.
Burke admitted EBIF was not exactly a "customer friendly"
name and that the company is still working on "getting the plumbing right." But
he said the technology epitomizes the types of initiative Comcast and NBC
Universal can fast track.
"We are big believers that interactive television is
coming," he said. "And it obviously factors into our enthusiasm for this deal."
Zucker pointed to NBC female-targeted marketing unit
Women@NBCU as an example of the kinds of marketing initiatives that will be
enhanced by a more robust array of assets.
"That's one of the real gems in this joint venture is
advertiser solutions and what we can do," Zucker said.
Asked if the broadcast network would move toward a dual
revenue model that has allowed cable to whether the downturn in advertising
revenue, Zucker replied: "Obviously we believe that we should be paid for
content [on broadcast networks NBC and Telemundo] and to the degree that the
marketplace continues to move toward more of a discreet fee for that content,
that's something that we expect to participate in."