Local Impacts of Comcast/NBC Merger

An early meeting that went late, along with the arrival of a Blackberry Playbook have sabotaged the morning links. Check CelticsLinks.com for all the coverage of last night’s Celtics win.

The recent combining of Comcast and NBC was a huge, controversial move that changes the face of network and cable television. It also will have an impact locally, some effects of which are already being seen, and others which may come down the line in time.

One item that has already happened is NBC using Comcast SportsNet personalities for national broadcasts. Carolyn Manno of CSNNE was utilized as a reporter during NBC’s recent “Hockey Day in America” event. In their release hyping the event, the NBC Sports group said the following:

Both “Hockey Day” and the “Heritage Classic” have been identified by NBCUniversal’s Marketing Council as cross-channel priorities. They will receive extensive promotion across NBC Universal’s 20 channels and more than 40 websites. These events for the first time leverage the newly-expanded resources of the NBC Sports Group by combining the national media assets of NBC Sports and VERSUS and the local insight from storied hockey markets like Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia served by Comcast SportsNet.

Another development along these same lines was the deal that NBC/Comcast just signed with the National Hockey League. This deal could impact NESN locally in terms of more nationally televised games, including the playoffs. Dick Ebersol, the Chairman of the NBC Sports Group said in a release announcing the agreement:  “What’s particularly exciting for us is not only the significant increase in regular season games, but the reality of a dream that every single playoff game will air on an NBC Sports Group platform.”

While an emphasis was made on NHL games increasing games by 200% on VERSUS, (which will be renamed to something with NBC in it sometime in the next 90 days) could a few Bruins playoff games be taken away from NESN and actually aired on their competitor here in New England, Comcast SportsNet? It sounds like a possibility.

In addition to the NHL, could NFL telecasts see an impact as well? When the Colts come into Gillette on December 4th, could you see local personalities involved with the broadcast? Utilized as reporters, or having segments prepared by or hosted from CSNNE studios?

Another item that NBC has been doing is creating local news sites around the country, much like ESPN has done with their local sites such as ESPNBoston.com. They’ve created sites in New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Diego. While there isn’t an NBCBoston.com just yet, on the sports side, they already have something substantial in place here with CSNNE.com. Could we see an integration there with CSNNE.com and NBC? You’ve already seen more NBC Sports content being used on CSNNE.com (Such as material from ProFootballTalk.com) and more is likely to come, especially on the hockey side, I would guess.

John Ourand of Sports Business Daily raised another possibility today. He reported today that CSN Bay Area will be producing live daily sports news segments for the over-the-air NBC affiliate in the Bay Area, which will air during the 6:00pm and 11:00pm newscasts. Ourand points out that this “could provide a model in other markets where Comcast owns an RSN and NBC owns a local broadcast affiliate.” CSNNE already does with the NECN newscasts. Could WHDH here in Boston go under a similar arrangement?

It is still very early on in this partnership, which is why so many of the above paragraphs ended with question marks. But one thing seems clear, we will see an impact here in our sports coverage as a result.

  • GuntfatherEddie

    Obviously you'll see Neumy on the horse racing stuff full-time because the NBC bought the rights to all 3 races.

    But isn't WHDH owned by Sunbeam and not NBC? The dude also owns Channel 56 too.

    • http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com Bruce Allen

      I think you're right on that. They may choose to partner with CSNNE sports just to save money, though.

      • GuntfatherEddie

        I'm not sure I can go on without Joe Amo, Freddie, and Borgie breaking down the Pats game every week.

  • Looking In

    The Bay Area NBC affiliate(KNTV) is owned by NBC, so it's the same as NECN is doing with CSNNE now.

    Since Comcast owns NECN unless the monetary gain to WHDH outweighs the conflict of interest in their reporting that is likely to doom any chance of WHDH using CSNNE people for their sports news segments.

  • APimpNamedDaveR

    Bruce — I think the NBC[cityname].com websites are more associated with the fact that all those outlets are NBC-owned affiliates, and not so much with attempting to create an ESPN-like local presence. I think NBC is using its name to develop local news/sports/weather web portals like TheBostonChannel.com for its owned affiliates.

    Boston is not network-owned — it's owned by Sunbeam TV, who were engaged in a long legal battle with GE/NBC over control of the Miami NBC affiliation. So I doubt Comcast/NBC would do any favors for WHDH or its web presence — I think they'd be more likely to buff up the CSNNE web offerings with NBC personnel and content, and maybe co-brand it.

  • Seth

    NESN losing games? No Jack? But the sales budgets will stay the same…that's how we do it at the Big Blue Ticket!

  • tl;dr

    Look out, Bruce. D&C called you ill-informed and/or stupid if you count their Providence ratings.

    • http://www.bostonsportsmedia.com Bruce Allen

      Count, or don't count?

      • tl;dr

        Don't because their reasoning is that since the 103.7 can be heard in places in MA it should count in their ratings.

        They were bragging (even though they claimed they weren't) that they be winning by a larger margin if you did count the Providence numbers. It was very funny and I laughed all the way to work during my long commute.

  • Alex

    I worry about the channel fees that Comcast can charge to their competitors(Directv, Dishnetwork, Fios) for the NBC family of stations.