Originally written on Awful Announcing  |  Last updated 2/12/13
Think the TV business is in trouble? Don't tell Comcast. NBC and its associated properties haven't had the greatest run of success since Comcast initially announced a deal to buy 51 percent of NBC Universal (which went through in 2011), but the cable company has decided to double down on its investment, acquiring General Electric's remaining 49 percent of NBC Universal well ahead of GE's planned divestiture of the stock (which would have started in July 2014). The magnitude of this deal's astounding, as Comcast will pay GE approximately $16.7 billion for the remaining shares and will be borrowing $5.3 billion of that through various methods. Why would they want to do this in a period where conventional broadcast TV's under assault from all corners and the NBC flagship itself has been hit hard lately? Well, a lot of it probably has to do with sports. See, what's particularly interesting about the NBC flagship is that they went from the punchline of everyone's jokes to the only traditional network with really positive ratings news at January's Television Critics Association press tour, and that rise had a lot to do with sports. Specifically, Sunday Night Football and Olympic coverage were key parts of what helped the network post big gains. NBC had a few successes beyond that, of course, in particular The Voice and Revolution, but Sunday Night Football's dominance was probably the biggest factor in the network's rise, and the Olympics did even better than many expected. Despite heavy criticism over their tape-delay strategy, NBC pulled solid ratings and turned a small profit on the London Games, and they're expecting to make money off Sochi in 2014. Things are looking up for them on the sports front, too; sure, nothing draws like the NFL, and it isn't back for months, but the NHL is now back and has pulled remarkable ratings thus far. That should help both the NBC mothership and NBC Sports Network, which could definitely use the assistance thanks to struggling ratings and growing, ambitious competition.  When you look at NBC Universal as an asset (and it's a big one, comprising everything from Oxygen to SyFy to Universal Parks and Resorts), it's the sports programming front that seems the most valuable, especially for the flagship. Yes, reality programs like The Voice are still drawing viewers, and the occasional show like Revolution will turn into a hit, but this is also the network that recently aired "the lowest-rated scripted premiere in the history of the Big Four networks" (Do No Harm, which was cancelled after just two airings.) They don't have a lot of big properties to build on outside of the sports front, and they may have to start almost completely from scratch this fall. Moreover, there's more and more competition for audiences these days, with specialty channels like HBO, AMC and FX delivering their own compelling programming and other outlets like Netflix getting into the game (which could really disrupt things for traditional broadcasters). NBC Universal actually competes with itself here, too, as their specialty channels are definitely drawing some viewers away from traditional network programming. What's attractive about sports, though, and about big-ticket items like Sunday Night Football, the Olympics and the recently-acquired English Premier League rights in particular, is that it still represents destination, somewhat DVR-proof programming. You can still get a lot of people to watch a Sunday Night Football game (and the ads aired within it) live, and that's a very attractive property for advertisers.  Does that make this a logical move for Comcast? Well, that's tough to tell without knowing the specifics of the balance sheets here; there's so much involved in NBC Universal that it's difficult to predict exactly what's making and losing money. It's certainly a risky move, though, especially when you consider how much Comcast is borrowing to get this done. From this corner, it sure looks like one of the big selling points of NBC Universal at the moment is its sports content, and the value of that would seem likely to continue to rise. We'll see how that does in relation to NBC Universal's other properties. Oh well, at least Comcast won't have to worry about Jack Donaghy tanking the network any more...
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Seahawks went on Hawaiian vacation to ease SB tension

Robert Kraft: Deflategate 'most overblown story' in NFL

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Jim Tressel once sent touching note to family of Michigan OL

Sony cut 'Concussion' scenes to avoid angering NFL

Ryan Clark: Trent Richardson is 'worst RB of all time'


Report: David Feherty won't be back at CBS Sports

Warren Moon: RG3 needs to start taking the blame

Lovullo: I don’t see Hanley Ramirez playing left field again in 2015

Judge Berman’s one-sentence order repeats Deflategate decision timeline

Ishmael Adams suspended indefinitely following arrest

McNair: Pats caused problem by not cooperating with Deflategate

Jack Eichel plans to move in with teammate Matt Moulson

Report: Bills GM 'went rogue’ in cutting Fred Jackson

Terrance Knighton irked by Redskins-Kardsashians comparison

Connor Cook on not being named Michigan State captain: 'It stinks'

Danny Amendola’s advice to those on roster bubble? ‘Control what you can’

Dallas Cowboys: Rookies to watch

Apple reportedly sought exclusive rights to new Bill Simmons podcast

One of Clemson’s 1981 national championship trophies broke

Milan Lucic says playing with Canucks is ‘dream of mine’

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

WATCH: Victoria Azarenka rips chair umpire at US Open

Bill O’Brien starts charity swear jar for cursing on ‘Hard Knocks’

Dikembe Mutombo teared up when Hawks announced franchise will retire his jersey

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

Manfred digs Shoeless Joe a deeper grave

Why Mike Trout ain't right

The Opening Drive: Jamal Anderson warns UM fans before heading to Salt Lake City

Best and worst MLB players in August

RG3 blames intern for liking Instagram post trashing owner

Four most surprising roster cuts from NFL teams

Raiders cut Trent Richardson

Caroline Wozniacki smoking cover of ‘Rhapsody’

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker