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NBC Universal, Inc.
Type Incorporated Joint-stock company[1]
Founded Merger between NBC and Vivendi (May 11, 2004 (2004-05-11))
Headquarters New York City, New York, U.S.
Key people Jeff Zucker (President/CEO),
Bob Wright (Chairman, NBC, Vice Chairman GE)
Revenue (GE) US$16.969 billion (2008)[2]
(Vivendi) 2.278 billion (2008)[3]
Parent General Electric (49%), Comcast (51%)
Divisions NBC, Universal Studios, NBC Universal Television Group, NBC News, USA Network, Syfy, CNBC, MSNBC cable TV, NBC.com, MSNBC.com, iVillage, Bravo, qubo, Telemundo Television Studios, The Weather Channel, Hulu, A&E Television Networks
Website http://www.nbcuni.com

NBC Universal, Inc. is a media and entertainment company which develops, produces, and markets entertainment, news, and information to a global customer base. The company owns and operates two American television networks, numerous cable channels, a group of local stations throughout the country, motion picture companies, a number of television production companies, and theme parks.

NBC Universal was formed in May 2004 by the merger of General Electric's NBC with Vivendi's Vivendi Universal Entertainment (VUE).[4][5] General Electric (GE) owns 80% of NBC Universal with the remaining 20% owned by Vivendi.[6] The logo of NBC Universal is a combination of the NBC peacock logo and the Universal Studios globe and text. On December 3, 2009, GE and US cable TV operator Comcast announced a buyout agreement for NBC Universal. If the transaction completes, and pending regulatory approval, Comcast would own 51% of NBC Universal while GE would own 49%. As a part of the deal, GE intends to buy out Vivendi's 20% minority stake in the company.[5][7]

It is headquartered in the Rockefeller Plaza in Midtown Manhattan, New York City[8], as well as Marblehead, Massachusetts, which it uses if power in New York City is out, but there is still power in the Greater Boston Area.

Contents

History

Early history

NBC and Universal Studios had a long standing partnership dating back to 1950. Universal Media Studios' earliest ancestor, Revue Studios, used to produce a number of shows for NBC, although they would have some hits on the other networks as well. This partnership continued even after Revue Studios became Universal Television, then Studios USA after it was split off from Universal, and then back to Universal Television. NBC Universal is contracted in the entertainment industry as NUTS/NBC Entertainment.

NBC Universal's headquarters is in the GE Building in New York City

Television

NBC Universal Television has its modern roots in a series of expansions undertaken by NBC. In the late 1980s, NBC began pursuing a strategy of diversification, including the formation of two NBC-owned cable-television networks: CNBC and America's Talking. NBC also had partial ownership of several regional sports channels and other cable channels such as American Movie Classics and Court TV (until 2006).

In 1995, NBC began operating NBC Desktop Video, a financial news service that delivered live video to personal computers. The following year, NBC announced an agreement with Microsoft to create an all-news cable television channel, MSNBC (using its subscriber base from America's Talking network). A separate joint venture with Microsoft included establishing a news website, MSNBC.com.

In 1998, NBC partnered with Dow Jones & Co.. The two companies combined their financial news channels outside the US. The new networks included NBC Europe, CNBC Europe, NBC Asia, CNBC Asia, NBC Africa, and CNBC Africa.

In 1999, NBC took a 32% stake in the Paxson group, operator of PAX TV. Five years later, NBC decided to sell its interest in PAX TV and end its relationship with PAX owner, Paxson Communications.

In 2002, NBC acquired the US-Spanish language broadcaster Telemundo, which included the bilingual Mun2 Television. That same year NBC acquired the cable channel Bravo.

Combining with Universal

In 2003, amid a major financial crisis caused by over-expansion, Universal Studios' parent company, Vivendi Universal Entertainment (a division of Vivendi), decided to sell an 80% stake to NBC's parent company, General Electric. The sale and resulting merger formed NBC Universal which is 80% owned by GE, and 20% owned by Vivendi.[4] The joint venture encompasses Vivendi's US film interests (such as Universal Studios), production and distribution units, as well as five theme parks, cable television channels including USA Network, Syfy, the defunct Trio, and Sleuth. Universal Music Group was not included in the deal and is not part of NBC Universal.[6] Vivendi SA has the right to monetize their remaining 20% stake in NBC Universal at fair market value. This would result in a forced purchase by GE. As of 2008 Vivendi had not exercised this option.

On May 12, 2004, the television divisions of NBC and Universal Television were combined to form NBC Universal Television. NBC Studios series bought into the company include the NBC dramas Las Vegas (with DreamWorks SKG), Crossing Jordan, and American Dreams. Universal Network Television bought the Law & Order franchise and The District -- in fact, Universal Network Television had co-produced American Dreams with NBC before the merger. Entertainment shows produced by the new group include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Last Call with Carson Daly, and Saturday Night Live.

The formation of NBC Universal saw the establishment of NBC Universal Cable, which oversees the distribution, marketing, and advertisement sales for thirteen channels (Bravo, Bravo HD+ (eventually renamed Universal HD), Chiller, CNBC, CNBC World, MSNBC, mun2, Syfy, ShopNBC, Telemundo, Sleuth, USA Network and the Olympic Games on cable). NBC Universal Cable also manages the company's investments in A&E, the History Channel, History Channel International, the Biography Channel, National Geographic International, and TiVo. The cable division also used to operate NBC Weather Plus until 2008.

Global expansion

NBC Universal Chicago headquarters (NBC Tower).

In the early 1990s, NBC began its expansion throughout Europe by creating CNBC Europe and its long-time successful NBC Europe Superstation by broadcasting NBC Giga throughout Germany and the rest of the European Union. NBC Europe helped to develop the largest European computer and video games expo "Games Convention" in Leipzig with more than 100,000 visitors each year.

In 2005, NBC Universal joined HANA, the High Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance to help establish standards in consumer electronics interoperability. Later that year, NBC announced a partnership with Apple Computer to offer shows from all the NBC Universal TV networks on Apple's iTunes Store.

In January 2006, NBC Universal launched a new cable channel, Sleuth. The channel's programming dedicated to mystery/crime genre. Sleuth Network's initial slogan was "Mystery. Crime. All The Time." In early 2008, the channel unveiled a new slogan, "Get Clued In."

One year later after Sleuth's debut, NBC Universal announced that the company would launch a horror-themed cable channel, Chiller, on March 1, 2007. At launch Chiller would be available exclusively on DirecTV. The network would feature films like Psycho and The Shining and TV series that include Twin Peaks, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Freddy's Nightmares, Friday the 13th: The Series, Tales from the Crypt. NBC Universal also stated that, aside from the content in their own vaults, Chiller will feature content from other studios as well.[citation needed]

NBC Universal and Citadel Broadcasting are extending their exclusivity period while in negotiations for ION Media Networks. ION Media Networks, NBC Universal (NBCU) and Citadel Broadcasting have all reached an agreement for the recapitalization of ION.[citation needed]

On June 14, 2007, NBC Universal Television Studio was renamed Universal Media Studios. The company explained that the reason for the name change was because "the new name fully describes the company's mission to be the premier content provider for television and digital platforms, spanning all television dayparts and creative genres." [9]

In August 2007, NBC Universal purchased Sparrowhawk Media Group and renamed it NBC Universal Global Networks. This acquisition gave NBC Universal all Hallmark channels outside the United States, plus the British channels: Diva TV, Movies 24, Hallmark Channel and the upcoming channel, KidsCo.[10] Later that fall, the company also acquired the Oxygen network in a separate $925 million deal.[11] The sale was completed one month later.

In the summer of 2008, NBC Universal, Blackstone Group and Bain Capital announced their intentions to buy The Weather Channel from Landmark Communications. The deal closed on September 12, 2008.[12] Shortly after the acquisition completed, NBC announced that their existing TV weather network, NBC Weather Plus, would be shut down by December 31, 2008.

The summer of 2008, marked NBC Universal's first venture into the United Kingdom by acquiring British television production company Carnival Films.[13]

On November 12, 2008, NBC Universal acquired 80.1% of Geneon Entertainment from Dentsu in Japan, merging it with Universal Pictures International Entertainment to form a new company,[14] Geneon Universal Entertainment Japan.[15]

NBC Universal and Microsoft Corporation have teamed up in an effort to sell NBC Universal's broadcast and cable advertising using Admira, the software giant's automated planning and buying tool.

On March 16, 2009, NBC Universal-owned cable channel Sci Fi announced that it would be changing its name to Syfy, to end confusion over how to capitalize and stylize their name and as part of an effort to rebrand the channel as offering "imagination-based entertainment" (including science fiction but also fantasy, the paranormal, adventure and others).[16] Network officials also noted that, unlike the generic term "sci fi" which represents the entire science fiction genre, the term "Syfy" can be protected by trademark and therefore would be easier to market on other goods or services without fear of confusion with other companies' products. The rebranding and name change took place on July 7, 2009.[17][18]

On August 27, 2009, A&E Television Networks (A&E) merged with Lifetime Entertainment Services (Lifetime),[19][20] giving NBC Universal an equal share of both Lifetime and A&E with The Walt Disney Company and Hearst.

Film

Universal Studios became a part of NBC Universal as a result of the 2004 merger. In July 2005, rumors began to emerge that NBC Universal might buy DreamWorks SKG for around US$1.0 billion. Eventually, however, the studio – excluding DreamWorks Animation – was sold to Viacom, the parent company of Paramount Pictures, for just over US$1.6 billion, but has since become independent again.

Other business

Parks and resorts

NBC Universal and Blackstone Group own the following parks and resorts:

Internet

The website Hulu is a joint venture of NBC Universal, Fox Entertainment Group, and ABC[21] Hulu offers commercial-supported streaming video of select TV shows, movies, and other video.

On April 24, 2007, NBC bought a website called Rmail which they later renamed SendMeRSS. SendMeRSS was shutdown in the summer of 2008. No reason or warning was given by NBC.[citation needed]

Sale to Comcast

In late September 2009, media outlets began reporting that cable giant Comcast was in talks to buy all or part of NBC Universal. NBC did not comment on the rumor, while Comcast denied it.[22] However, CNBC itself reported on October 1 that General Electric was considering spin-off of NBC Universal into a separate company that would merge with Comcast's content assets which include E! Entertainment Television, Versus, Golf Channel, Style Network and regional properties. GE would maintain 49% control of the new company, while Comcast owned 51%.[23][24]

On November 1, 2009, The New York Times reported Comcast had moved closer to a deal to purchase NBC Universal and that a formal announcement could be made sometime the following week.[25]

On December 1, 2009, CNBC reported that a tentative agreement had been reached between Comcast and GE.[26] The deal was formally announced on December 3, 2009.[7] Under the agreement, NBC Universal would be 51% owned by Comcast and 49% by GE. Comcast is to pay $6.5 billion cash to GE. Comcast will also contribute $7.5 billion in programming including regional sports networks and cable channels such as Golf Channel and E! Entertainment Television. GE plans to use some of the funds, $5.8 billion, to buy out Vivendi's 20% minority stake in NBC Universal.[7] After the transaction completes, Comcast will reserve the right to buy out GE's share at certain times. GE will also reserve the right to force the sale of their stake within the first seven years. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.[7]

Vivendi will sell 7.66% of NBC Universal to GE for US$2 billion if the GE/Comcast deal is not completed by September 2010 and then sell the remaining 12.34% stake of NBC Universal to GE for US$3.8 billion when the deal is completed or to the public via an IPO if the deal is not completed.[27][28]

Notes

  1. ^ STOCKHOLDERS AGREEMENT
  2. ^ "GE 2008 Annual Report" (PDF). http://www.ge.com/ar2008/pdf/ge_ar_2008.pdf. Retrieved 2009-12-24. 
  3. ^ "Vivendi 2008 Annual Report" (PDF). http://www.vivendi.com/vivendi/IMG/pdf/20090408_annual_report_en_080409.pdf. Retrieved 2009-12-24. 
  4. ^ a b Jean-Bernard LEVY (May 13, 2004). "Overview of NBC Universal Merger" (PDF). Vivendi Universal. http://www.vivendi.com/vivendi/IMG/pdf/15_NBCUClosing_130504.pdf. Retrieved 2009-12-24. 
  5. ^ a b "TIMELINE: NBC, Universal through the 20th century and beyond". Reuters. December 3, 2009. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5B22SO20091203. Retrieved 2009-12-24. 
  6. ^ a b "Company Overview". NBC Universal. http://www.nbcuni.com/About_NBC_Universal/Company_Overview/. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  7. ^ a b c d Wilkerson, David B.; Steven Goldstein (2009-12-03). "Comcast scores controlling stake in NBC Universal". MarketWatch. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/comcast-to-buy-nbc-stake-as-venture-formed-2009-12-03. Retrieved 2009-12-03. 
  8. ^ NBC Universal to sell Burbank, Calif, studio. MarketWatch. October 11, 2007. Retrieved on August 28, 2009.
  9. ^ NBC Universal (2007-06-14). "NBC Universal Re-Names NBC Universal Television Studio as Universal Media Studios". Press release. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news.aspx?id=20070614nuts01. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  10. ^ Eric Pfanner (August 28, 2007). "NBC Universal buys 18 Hallmark channels outside the U.S.". International Herald Tribune. http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/28/business/nbc.php. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  11. ^ Michael Learmonth (October 10, 2007). "NBC U Sucks in Oxygen". Daily Variety. p. 1. 
  12. ^ SETH SUTEL (July 7, 2008). "NBC Universal to buy The Weather Channel for $3.5B". The Sydney Morning Herald. http://news.smh.com.au/technology/nbc-universal-to-buy-the-weather-channel-for-35b-20080707-32qb.html. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  13. ^ Conlan, Tara (2008-08-20). "NBC Universal buy Carnival". guardian.co.uk (Guardian News and Media). http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/aug/20/television.usa1. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  14. ^ "Geneon to Merge with Universal Pictures Japan". Anime News Network. November 12, 2008. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2008-11-12/geneon-to-merge-with-universal-pictures-japan. Retrieved November 13, 2008. 
  15. ^ "Geneon Universal Entertainment Japan Official Website" (in Japanese). http://www.geneonuniversal.jp/. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  16. ^ "Syfy Frequently Asked Questions". Syfy. http://www.syfy.com/faq/. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  17. ^ Elliott, Stuart (March 16, 2009). "Sci Fi Channel Has a New Name: Now, It's Syfy". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/16/business/media/16adcol.html. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  18. ^ Syfy: Not your father's sci-fi, Fortune, July 7, 2009
  19. ^ A&E Acquires Lifetime, Variety.com, August 27, 2009
  20. ^ A&E Networks, Lifetime Merger Completed, Broadcasting & Cable, August 27, 2009
  21. ^ Brady, Shirley (2007-08-29). "NBC and Fox Jump Through Hulu Hoop". Cable360.net. http://www.cable360.net/competition/web/25376.html. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  22. ^ Comcast in Talks to Buy NBC Universal, AJC.com, October 1, 2009
  23. ^ GE is in Talks to Spin Off NBC, Give Comcast 51% of New Unit, CNBC.com, October 1, 2009
  24. ^ BRIAN STELTER (October 1, 2009). "GE and Comcast Exploring a Spin-Off of NBC Universal". The New York Times. http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/01/ge-and-comcast-exploring-a-spin-off-of-nbc-universal. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  25. ^ MICHAEL J. de la MERCED ; ANDREW ROSS SORKIN (November 2, 2009). "Comcast Said to Be Close to Gaining NBC Universal". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/business/media/02nbc.html. Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  26. ^ Faber, David (2009-12-01). "GE, Comcast Complete Deal Over NBC Universal: Source". CNBC. http://www.cnbc.com/id/34225581. Retrieved 2009-12-01. 
  27. ^ Vivendi (December 3, 2009). "Vivendi to Sell its Stake in NBC Universal for US$5.8 Billion". Press release. http://www.vivendi.fr/vivendi/Nouvel-article,5902. 
  28. ^ "Vivendi to Sell 20% Stake in NBCU to GE for $5.8 Bln". The Wall Street Journal. December 3, 2009. http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20091203-704378.html. 

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