Commerce plus broadcasting equals Comcast. The company's core cable division is the largest pay-TV provider in the US (ahead of satellite provider DIRECTV and direct competitor Time Warner Cable) with about 22 million video subscribers. Comcast derives the bulk of its revenue from its cable services offered in 39 states and the District of Columbia. It has about 21 million broadband Internet subscribers, while its XFINITY computer telephony service has about 11 million customers. Comcast also has cable programming interests, such as E!, G4, and The Golf Channel, and sells time to advertisers. In early 2014, Comcast moved to buy Time Warner Cable for some $45 billion in stock.
Comcast operates throughout the US.
The company reports revenue through five segments: Cable Communications, Cable Networks, Broadcast Television, Filmed Entertainment, and Theme Parks.
Through majority-owned subsidiary Comcast Spectacor, it owns Philadelphia's professional sports teams, the 76ers and the Flyers, as well as the Wells Fargo Center arena in that city. Comcast Spectacor also manages other venues used for sporting events and music concerts in Philadelphia, as well as related service businesses including Ovations Food Services and facilities management provider Global Spectrum.
Comcast also has a joint venture with General Electric and a 51% interest in NBCUniversal (NBCU).
Sales and Marketing
Comcast offers its services directly to residential and business customers through call centers, door-to-door selling, direct mail advertising, television advertising, Internet advertising, local media advertising, telemarketing, and retail outlets. In 2012 Verizon became an agent to sell Comcast cable services in many markets.
Comcast spent about $5 billion on advertising, marketing, and promotion expenses during fiscal 2013.
Revenue increased to about $65 billion in 2013 from about $63 billion in 2012. Revenue increases in cable communication, cable networks, and theatrical spurred the increase. Higher revenue translated into higher net income, which was $6.8 billion in 2013, up from from $6.2 billion in 2012. Cash flow from operations was $14.2 billion, down from $14.8 billion in 2012. Higher accounts payable and accrued expenses together with increase in other operating assets and liabilities, cut into the operating cash flow.
The move to buy Time Warner Cable for some $45 billion in stock would combine the nation’s two largest cable companies, which have been facing stiff competition from less expensive pay TV alternatives such as Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV. To combat any antitrust concerns, Comcast will divest about 3 million subscribers (which will most likely go to Charter Communications) in order to keep its market share to less than 30%. The two companies say the merger will save some $1.5 billion in operating efficiencies and finally give Comcast access to the New York City market. If approved by regulators, the deal could be completed in early 2015.
Prior to the NBCU deal, the company had been taking incremental steps toward building its media and programming holdings and expanding its interactive digital services.
In 2013 the company reached an agreement for a new distribution pact to deliver Fox Broadcasting’s and Fox Television Stations’ wide array of entertainment, sports, and local news content to Comcast Xfinity TV customers across televisions, computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and internet-enabled televisions. The renewal supports the companies’ mutual goal to deliver the most popular video content to customers across multiple platforms.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Comcast's NBCUniversal joint venture left GE with a 49% stake in NBCU valued at approximately $30 billion. As part of the deal, Comcast contributed assets and cash valued at about $14 billion, giving it control of a hefty portfolio of communications, media, and entertainment businesses. To its existing cable, phone service, and sports holdings, the company added the NBC television network, Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo, Universal Studios, Focus Features, ten local NBC broadcast stations, and 15 cable channels including Bravo, CNBC, and the USA Network.
Other assets included in the deal were a long list of broadcast-related Internet media properties and the Universal Parks & Resorts theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood. The extensive catalog of feature films from Universal Pictures and Focus Features is a compelling addition to Comcast's selection of video-on-demand content and enables better distribution of movies and television programming to consumers via cable and mobile devices.
Key stipulations made by the FCC to allow the deal included a requirement that Comcast offer versions of content such as Saturday Night Live and other popular shows to online video purveyors such as Apple TV and YouTube under the same terms offered to cable and satellite carriers. Furthermore, Comcast is obligated to offer Internet videos to the online distribution partners of NBC's peers to avoid unfair practices against competitors. The company was also compelled to provide broadband Internet access as a reasonably-priced, stand-alone service to give subscribers the option of watching online video without also requiring them to be cable television customers. The company gained a 27% stake in Hulu, but gave up management control of the online video broadcaster to gain approval from the Justice Department for the deal.
In early 2013 Comcast acquired GE's 49% stake in NBCUniversal for nearly $17 billion.