Comcast Corporation

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  • Dec. 7, 2015, 6:47 PM
    • A serious courtship between America's No. 3 and No. 4 wireless providers went sour in 2014 after the government made it clear it wanted four players, and since then merger speculation (particularly among suffering Sprint shareholders) has held that any new move wuold have to wait for a new administration.
    • But what if the relationship could be rekindled earlier? Overtures toward wireless service from Comcast (CMCSA -0.6%), or other cable firms yet to express interest, could allow for a union between T-Mobile (TMUS +3.2%) and Sprint (S +2.8%) while maintaining the desired competitive players.
    • Comcast started a process that would let it resell Verizon airwaves and acknowledged it was testing a service for a launch sometimes in the future. One catalyst could be a heavy bid into the March spectrum auction.
    • "It seems clear that Sprint is playing for time, presumably to try again to merge with T-Mobile in 2017-18 under a new administration," says analyst Crag Moffett. "By then, Comcast will likely have bought spectrum in the TV broadcast auction, making it plausible to argue that a Sprint/T-Mobile combination can be called a five-to-four merger, not a four-to-three."
    • Several outcomes are yet possible, though, and not all favor Sprint: Comcast could use an auction bid as a precursor for its own T-Mobile buyout; firms like Alphabet or could buy spectrum; or private investor Chamath Palihapitiya could succeed in an audacious plan to bid billions of dollars in the auction to create a new player called Rama.
    • Previously: Comcast: Testing wireless service, but in no hurry to launch (Oct. 27 2015)
    | Dec. 7, 2015, 6:47 PM | 19 Comments
  • Dec. 7, 2015, 3:32 PM
    • In a debate over who's-in and who's-out (and are-they-even-selling) around Yahoo's Internet business, Comcast (CMCSA -0.9%) -- floated as a big-pocketed prospect to take it on -- is "unlikely" to buy the operations whole, SunTrust's Inder Singh says.
    • Instead, the company might go more piecemeal, especially with substantial existing content assets in NBCUniversal. “We believe there are some adtech assets, for example BrightRoll (online video advertising), which Comcast may be interested in, but we believe CMCSA is unlikely to acquire all of core Yahoo to get these assets," Singh says.
    • He also points to Verizon's AOL buy (lately held up as a model for a Comcast-Yahoo deal) as not necessarily the answer: "Comcast already has a number of adtech assets and significantly more video content with its ownership of NBCUniversal. Further, Comcast has acquired Visible World (programmatic TV ad sales platform), This Technology (content delivery including dynamic ad insertion business), FreeWheel (video ad content platform), ThePlatform (spin-in of online video management system), and is an investor in Videology (Private)" -- all part of a strategy already well at work.
    • SunTrust colleague Robert Peck had speculated before that media companies like AT&T and Disney could be interested in pieces, as could News Corp. or Time Inc.
    • Previously: Mizuho: Yahoo should sell core business, to Comcast (Dec. 04 2015)
    • Previously: Media companies linked to circling pack around Yahoo Internet business (Dec. 02 2015)
    | Dec. 7, 2015, 3:32 PM
  • Dec. 7, 2015, 1:42 PM
    • A traditionally slow post-Thanksgiving box-office weekend ended with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (NYSE:LGF) holding on to its third straight weekend win, holding off a Christmas horror-comedy.
    • Mockingjay 2 logged $18.6M to edge Krampus (NASDAQ:CMCSA), which took $16M, above a projected $10M-$13M. Lionsgate's series finale has grossed a cumulative $227.1M domestically.
    • Meanwhile, Creed (NYSE:TWX) held the third spot with $15.54M -- which means a heavy drop-off for Pixar's The Good Dinosaur (NYSE:DIS) to $15.51M to fourth place.
    • In its fifth week, James Bond film Spectre (NYSE:SNE) drew $5.4M to bring its cumulative domestic total to $184.5M. Overall, domestic box office for the weekend was likely to end up 20% ahead Y/Y.
    | Dec. 7, 2015, 1:42 PM | 1 Comment
  • Dec. 4, 2015, 7:42 PM
    • Following months of talks, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and its home base of Philadelphia agreed to terms on a new 15-year renewal of their franchise deal.
    • Key for the City Council was Comcast's agreement to expand its Internet Essentials discount program, currently open to low-income families with school-age children, to include seniors, as well to provide up to $2.7M to allow more low-income residents to join.
    • The pact settles four franchises that let the company keep working wires in the city in exchange for 5% for local cable TV revenue (which was $17.5M last year).
    • "It has some strong commitments from Comcast as well as some strong financial liability if those commitments are not met," said Philadelphia's lead negotiator, Adel Ebeid.
    • Previously: Comcast upgrading its low-cost Internet service (Aug. 04 2015)
    | Dec. 4, 2015, 7:42 PM
  • Dec. 4, 2015, 7:10 PM
    • The spread of consumer hardware for TV viewing, including Roku devices and Apple TV as well as next-gen gaming consoles, could kill off set-top boxes and ease capex for cablecos.
    • Analyst Craig Moffett sees costs decreasing for major pay-TV providers not only due to the boxes, but also once they complete a transition to next-gen transmission technologies, likely by 2019.
    • Boxes won't go extinct, but the rapid uptake of consumer hardware means the providers will see lower customer premise equipment costs -- in some cases by quite a bit, he argues.
    • "The idea that customers will eventually consume video through their own Apple TV or Roku boxes, or simply connect their cable to their smart TVs, Xboxes and Sony PlayStations, is neither new nor far-fetched," Moffett says. "There are good reasons to believe that CPE spending may come down significantly in future generations."
    • Time Warner Cable (TWC +1.8%) began supporting Roku-only cable service in New York City last month. Assuming its takeover by Charter (CHTR +2.1%) goes through, the combined company's CPE spending could drop to $917M by 2019, from $2.97B this year, Moffett says. Pro forma capital spending at Charter will fall to $5.83B in 2019 from an estimated $6.97B today.
    • He estimates Comcast (CMCSA +1.9%) CPE spending will drop to $1.6B in 2019, from $3.7B this year.
    | Dec. 4, 2015, 7:10 PM
  • Dec. 4, 2015, 1:28 PM
    • As Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) wraps a few days of deliberations over its future amid speculation about whether it should focus on its core or its Alibaba stake, Mizuho is weighing in definitively: Sell the core Web business, and sell it to Comcast (CMCSA +2%).
    • "It remains unclear if the IRS will tax the spin-out of Aabaco, but in our view, a taxed transaction on a likely $3-$5b sale of the core Yahoo business outweighs the risk of the company/shareholders being hit with a $20b IRS tax bill on a spin-out of Aabaco," write the firm's Neil Doshi and Sam Phan. "We think the best option for Yahoo would be to sell its core biz to a strong strategic buyer –- namely Comcast."
    • The two cited four reasons for targeting the media/telecom giant as a buyer: First, skepticism that Yahoo can pull another turnaround; Comcast's existing digital assets; ad assets at Yahoo complementary to Comcast's ad business; and Comcast's strong ability to absorb a deal (with $25B in annual EBITDA, Comcast could retain debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 2:1).
    • Previously: WSJ: Alibaba unlikely to buy core Yahoo business (Dec. 03 2015)
    • Previously: Media companies linked to circling pack around Yahoo Internet business (Dec. 02 2015)
    | Dec. 4, 2015, 1:28 PM | 2 Comments
  • Dec. 2, 2015, 9:42 PM
    • While speculation about buyers for Yahoo's (NASDAQ:YHOO) core Internet business is focused on private equity, Yahoo's evolution as a media company means a number of media/telecom firms are in play for all or part of the business.
    • A sale of the core business might not happen -- it's not the main purpose of Yahoo's meeting -- but on the other hand, a transaction would certainly value it at more than where it is locked up in Yahoo, which may be less than zero because of the investments in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan.
    • Estimates vary widely on the Internet business' value, from just under $2B to as much as near $4B. Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) could have room for that after it failed to acquire Time Warner Cable; it's been spreading out investments in a number of media and Internet companies this year, and it could lump in Yahoo's properties with its own Xfinity online video.
    • Like Verizon (NYSE:VZ), another potential Yahoo Internet suitor, Comcast has also been shoring up its ad-tech bona fides with some 2015 acquisitions. Verizon could use Yahoo's data to present a better competitive face to Google and Facebook, though it would have redundancies to deal with.
    • Other companies like News Corp. (NWS, NWSA) or Time Inc. (NYSE:TIME) may be more interested in some pieces of Yahoo's business rather than the whole. SunTrust analyst Robert Peck even considers AT&T (NYSE:T) and Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) prospective buyers; Disney for tapping the data to market theme parts and movies, and AT&T trying to match up better against the Verizon/AOL combo.
    • Previously: FT: P-E firms show interest in Yahoo's core business (updated) (Dec. 02 2015)
    | Dec. 2, 2015, 9:42 PM | 15 Comments
  • Nov. 24, 2015, 1:51 PM
    • The Justice Dept. is looking into whether Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is violating antitrust law with its practices in the cable ad-sales market, The Wall Street Journal reports.
    • The probe examines the $5B market and whether Comcast is engaging in "monopolization or attempted monopolization” of spot sales in Comcast service locations, as well as whether the company's deals with rivals amount to restraint of trade.
    • The investigation is in early stages, the paper reports, but the government has requested information from companies in the market including Comcast.
    • Comcast says the market is "robustly competitive," that local cable ads are only 7% of local ad sales due to competitive media including radio and broadcast TV, and that it will cooperate fully with the probe.
    | Nov. 24, 2015, 1:51 PM | 5 Comments
  • Nov. 23, 2015, 7:10 PM
    • Five days after the YES regional sports network was blacked out on Comcast (CMCSA -1.2%) systems in three states, the president of the channel's key sports team is weighing in.
    • This amounts to nothing more than a money grab," the New York Yankees' Randy Levine tells the New York Daily News. "It's a typical gutless act by a cable carrier seeking to promote its own self-interest.
    • The dispute is over price (YES is reportedly the most expensive RSN at $4.89 per subscriber month). Interestingly, Comcast says it has a deal in principle, but may be stalling -- the Yankee's spring training a few months away, and the Brooklyn Nets (the channel's other key draw) have a 3-11 record.
    • Comcast saves millions by dropping the channel from nets where it says few viewers are watching anyway.
    • Previously: Comcast +2.3% as three-state YES Network blackout begins (Nov. 18 2015)
    • Previously: Comcast, YES at carriage impasse with midnight blackout deadline (Nov. 17 2015)
    | Nov. 23, 2015, 7:10 PM | 1 Comment
  • Nov. 23, 2015, 2:08 PM
    • CTI Towers -- a unit majority owned by Comcast (CMCSA -1.2%) -- has bought 120 telecom towers from Vyve Broadband.
    • The subsidiary says it won't disrupt operations depending on the towers; tenants include all of the U.S. big four: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.
    • The move may raise some eyebrows, though, among those following Comcast's possible ambitions in wireless service. Last month, the company told Verizon it would execute a right to resell Verizon's airwaves and then said it was (slowly) testing its service -- perhaps a hybrid cellular/Wi-Fi service a la Google's Fi.
    • Previously: Comcast: Testing wireless service, but in no hurry to launch (Oct. 27 2015)
    | Nov. 23, 2015, 2:08 PM
  • Nov. 19, 2015, 7:53 PM
    • Sports broadcasters have been enjoying an ad bonanza from the rapidly growing daily fantasy sports industry -- try to watch a game this year without uncountable ads from DraftKings and FanDuel -- but a crackdown on those two firms and their industry could run out the clock on the party, analysts say.
    • The two companies combined spent $118M on TV ads in September, says Michael Nathanson -- that's AT&T-level ($129.2M) money. And most of it goes to ESPN (DIS +0.5%), followed closely by Fox Sports (FOX -1%, FOXA -1.2%).
    • "While the category is not as large as autos, films, health care or consumer products, the birth of a new category was incremental to the [TV] market and had to be a factor in [Q3's] upside to ad estimates," Nathanson writes.
    • NBCUniversal (CMCSA +0.1%) and CBS (CBS +0.9%) are also benefiting, to a lesser extent, from the fantasy spending.
    • Bernstein's Todd Juenger said the spending gains may be "unsustainable," adding "Daily fantasy sports sites may not even exist next year. Even if they do, the probability that they grow, again, at these rates is very low."
    | Nov. 19, 2015, 7:53 PM | 13 Comments
  • Nov. 19, 2015, 1:20 PM
    • Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is spreading out, taking its Stream TV cable service to Chicago.
    • The streaming service has been available in Boston since its launch last week. The service, for $15/month, lets customers watch live broadcast TV and HBO while on their (Comcast) home broadband networks, along with an on-demand library that can be watched at home or remotely.
    • Notably, the company is exempting all Stream TV traffic from the data caps it's been introducing in some markets -- a "zero rating" approach similar to T-Mobile exempting video streaming from its data limits. Comcast says that's because the service is delivered over its cable system and not the Internet.
    • That might insulate it from potential net neutrality complaints; regulations have an exemption for non-broadband service.
    • The company plans to launch Stream TV nationwide early next year.
    • Previously: Comcast working on unified video app (Nov. 11 2015)
    | Nov. 19, 2015, 1:20 PM | 5 Comments
  • Nov. 18, 2015, 6:43 PM
    • The Comcast-backed investment company that former CFO Michael Angelakis is running has added two new key execs.
    • The first non-Comcast hires at the firm are former Sunoco CFO Clare McGrory and David Caplan, a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell. McGrory joins as partner and CFO, Reuters reports, while Caplan will become partner and general counsel after the end of the year.
    • While not internal to Comcast, Caplan has experience on several of Comcast's deals, including its acquisition of NBCUniversal.
    • Angelakis stepped down as CFO of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) to be CEO at the new investment company, which has $4B in capital commitments from the cableco along with up to $100M from management (and $40M from Angelakis personally).
    • Comcast has a 10-year deal to be the sole outside investor in the firm.
    • Previously: Comcast names Cavanagh to CFO post (May. 11 2015)
    • Previously: Comcast to back new strategic company (Mar. 31 2015)
    | Nov. 18, 2015, 6:43 PM
  • Nov. 18, 2015, 3:48 PM
    • In its carriage dispute with the YES regional sports network (FOX, FOXA), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) was banking on the fact that little uptake among its customers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut would mean a blackout of the expensive channel wouldn't hurt it too badly.
    • The channel did go dark at midnight last night, and Comcast's investors may be endorsing the stance -- Comcast shares are up 2.3%, and at $62.56 are re-approaching a 52-week high it set in July.
    • YES reportedly charges $4.89 per subscriber per month, which would make it the most expensive regional sports net and approaching ESPN subscriber-cost territory. It is the most-watched RSN in the country.
    • Comcast says that of 130 baseball games on YES this season, more than 90% of its subscribers didn't watch the equivalent of a quarter of the games despite the Yankees' playoff pursuit.
    • Previously: Comcast, YES at carriage impasse with midnight blackout deadline (Nov. 17 2015)
    | Nov. 18, 2015, 3:48 PM
  • Nov. 17, 2015, 9:11 PM
    • Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and YES, the New York Yankees/Brooklyn Nets regional sports net, are headed for a blackout with a carriage agreement expiring at midnight -- and it might last a while.
    • As usual, the dispute settles on price -- YES, owned by Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) is reportedly the most expensive regional sports net, at $4.89 per subscriber month -- and Comcast is playing hardball with the Yankees' network.
    • The cableco says that in the areas it carries the network (in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania), its 900,000 customers don't really watch the channel, especially outside of baseball season: "The price Fox and the Yankees are requiring from our customers is not acceptable given the network’s minimal viewership, which is why we have decided we can no longer justify continuing to carry the network."
    • For its part, YES says it and Comcast reached an agreement on principle months ago and that it operated in good faith toward a new contract through the Yankees' and NYC FC's seasons and into the Nets' season.
    | Nov. 17, 2015, 9:11 PM | 1 Comment
  • Nov. 17, 2015, 6:02 PM
    • If Hulu's three partner-owners (DIS, CMCSA, FOX/FOXA) decide to bring in a fourth -- Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), reported to be in very preliminary talks about an equal stake -- it could be the tipping point for a federal probe.
    • That's the take of Guggenheim's Paul Gallant, if anything interesting were to happen with the foursome's licensing of content to Netflix.
    • It's possible that media execs haven't private discussed restricting content sales, he writes -- "But given the growing public discussion around this issue — highlighted by Time Warner's comments and its possible Hulu move — it would not surprise us if the DOJ began an investigation for any indication of coordination regarding OTT."
    • The feds reportedly launched an investigation before, he points out, into cable TV stances on over-the-top video services in 2012.
    • On the other hand, there's far from a uniform stance toward Netflix from the content providers, and Hulu co-owner Disney has a three-year movie deal with the service starting next year.
    • Comcast can't take an active role in management at Hulu until 2018, based on conditions from its acquisition of NBCUniversal.
    • Previously: Hulu-Time Warner deal: A four-way strategic play, if it happens (Nov. 12 2015)
    • Previously: WSJ: Hulu looking at stake sale to Time Warner valuing it at $5B-$6B (Nov. 12 2015)
    | Nov. 17, 2015, 6:02 PM | 4 Comments
Company Description
Comcast Corp is a media and technology company. The Company's business segments are: Cable Communications, Cable Networks, Broadcast Television, Filmed Entertainment, and Theme Parks.
Sector: Services
Industry: CATV Systems
Country: United States