Comcast-NBC Could Mean End of Free Web TV

By Andrew Gauthier 


Free TV shows on the Internet could be harder to find if Comcast Corp succeeds in acquiring a majority stake in NBC Universal.

Comcast would become a partner in Hulu the video website which allows viewers to watch TV shows on the Web for free, a business potentially worth billions of dollars if consumers had to pay to watch the shows.


The video website is jointly owned by NBC Universal, News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. Hulu is the most popular site in the United States for watching TV shows, according to comScore.

Comcast is in talks with General Electric Co, to buy 51 percent of NBC Universal, which would allow the cable operator to combine its cable assets with NBC’s cable networks, movie studio and theme parks, according to people familiar with the talks.

Cable operators have downplayed investor fears that customers will drop cable for free TV on the Web. But privately they’ve warned TV networks they may stop paying affiliate fees if free TV shows keep cropping up on the Web. More…