Comcast Corp is trying to make it more difficult for consumers to watch television online for free. Comcast in in talks with General Electric to acquire a majority stake in NBC Universal, owner of free-web tv site Hulu. Hulu is currently the most popular site in the US for watching tv shows (with 40 million unique viewers in August) and if Comcast succeeds in acquiring the 51% stake in NBCU, they plan to turn Hulu into their cash cow. The Comcast deal would not only allow them to start charging for Hulu content but it would combine its cable assets with NBC’s cable networks, movie studio and theme parks.
Comcast, the largest US cable operator, has continually downplayed the growing number of online tv watchers as competition, saying that there is no reason to fear people will drop cable to watch shows online for free. They developed a service called TV Everywhere with Time Warner Cable, which allowed consumer to watch shows on the web, as long as they were TWC paying subscribers. But Comcast now realizes that Hulu is indeed a silent competitor with their products. NBC and Fox created Hulu so they could in fact compete with Comcast, and now that Hulu is the sixth most visited site in the US, Comcast is trying to halt their competition.
For more information about the potential deal and the potential effects, go to: http://www.reuters.com/article/companyNews/idUSTRE5942UI20091005