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Comcast Plans NBCU SVOD as Regulatory Restrictions Expire

19 Apr, 2017 By: Doug McPherson

PHILADELPHIA – NBCUniversal is planning to launch subscription-video-on-demand services (SVOD) similar to CBS All Access in the next 12 to 18 months, Bloomberg News reports.

The news comes as roughly 150 restrictions on Comcast are coming to an end – restrictions placed on it during its purchase of NBCU in 2011.

Amy Yong, an analyst at Macquarie, told Bloomberg News, “The handcuffs are off. Now that the conditions are expiring, they’re more free to explore their options.”

The service will include programs from the NBC network and, possibly shows from pay-TV networks SyFy, Bravo, and USA. Comcast hasn’t said it will include a live feed of its broadcast network, and there’s no word on if it’ll include sports content.

NBCU already offers a comedy streaming service, Seeso, launched in 2015 and offering episodes and clips from shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” the U.K. and U.S. versions of “The Office,” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” as well as some original series.

Comcast has already struck deals with cable network providers to offer its channels across the U.S.

NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said publicly last year that the U.S. broadcaster was planning to unveil a plan to launch a NBCU-branded SVOD service in “the next couple of months,” highlighting the fact that NBCU was “in a unique position” to launch such a service because of its relationship with Comcast Cable.

Daniel Frankel, a reporter with FierceCable, says by virtually all measures on quarterly earnings reports, Comcast’s purchase of NBCU has been an unquestionable success. “The NBC broadcast network went from last place to first place and is now generating a healthy profit, despite audience erosion,” Frankel writes. “The story is very much the same at film division Universal Pictures. Theme parks are spinning off nice profits, too.”

Still, Comcast and NBCU have had their hands tied on some issues relative to their competitors.

Current restrictions prevent NBCU from taking down programming during carriage and broadcast retransmission licensing disputes. Dish Network exploited this disability a year ago when the two sides were carving out a renewal deal.

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