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NBC Universal, Inc. is a media and entertainment company formed in May 2004 by the combination of General Electric's NBC with Vivendi Universal Entertainment, part of the French Media Group. The deal excluded the French Canal+ operations, which were retained by Vivendi. GE owned 80% of NBC Universal with the remaining 20% owned by Vivendi SA., until 1 December 2009, when GE purchased the remaining 20% stake of NBC Universal which it did not already own, with the speculated intentions of selling NBC Universal in its entirety to Comcast. The company develops, produces, and markets entertainment, news, and information to a global customer base. It is headquartered in the Rockefeller Plazamarker in Midtown Manhattan, New York Citymarker.

NBC Universal owns and operates 2 United Statesmarker television networks, numerous cable networks, a group of local stations throughout the country, motion picture companies, a number of television production companies, and multiple theme parks. Universal Music Group was not included in the 2004 deal and is not part of NBC Universal.

Jeff Zucker was named president and CEO of NBC Universal on February 6, 2007, replacing Bob Wright, who remains chairman of NBC Universal and vice chairman of General Electric. Zucker previously served as chief executive of the company's television operations. The logo of NBC Universal is a combination of the NBC peacock logo and the Universal Studios globe and text.


Early history

NBC and Universal Studios had a long standing partnership dating back to 1950. The companies' 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.

Expanding to cable

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: CNBCmarker 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,

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 decided to sell the Universal 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. 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. 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 has not exercised this option.

In 2004, the television production divisions of NBC Studios and Universal Network Television were combined to form Universal Media Studios. NBC Studios series bought into the company include the NBC dramas Las Vegas (with DreamWorks SKGmarker), 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 Jay Leno Show, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, 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 oeprated NBC Weather Plus until acquiring The Weather Channel in 2008.

Global expansion

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 Germanymarker and the rest of the European Union. NBC Europe helped to develop the largest European computer and video games expo "Games Convention" in Leipzigmarker 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.

On December 6, 2005 they announced a partnership with Apple Computer to offer shows from all the NBC Universal channels on the iTunes Store.

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

On January 12, 2007, NBC Universal revealed that the company would launch a horror-themed cable channel, Chiller on March 1 of that year. At launch Chiller would be available exclusively on DirecTV. The network features 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 content in their own vaults, Chiller will feature content from other studios as well (Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount Pictures, CBS and 20th Century Fox, to name a few).

On February 14, 2007, the initial Chiller launch schedule was released. Other than the aforementioned series, other series set to air on the cable channel include American Gothic, G vs E, Night Gallery, Monsters and New Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

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.

On Thursday, June 14, 2007, NBCU announced that NBC Universal Television Studio would be renamed, effective immediately, to Universal Media Studios. The parent company, NBC Universal, explained that the reason for the name change of NBC Universal Television Studio 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."

On October 9, 2007 NBC Universal bought the Oxygen network.

In late 2007, NBC Universal bought 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.'NBC Universal buys 18 Hallmark channels outside the U.S.', International Herald Tribune, August 28, 2007

On July 6, 2008 NBC Universal, Blackstone Group and Bain Capital announced their intentions to buy The Weather Channel from Landmark Communications. The deal was closed on September 12, 2008.'NBC Universal to buy The Weather Channel for $3.5B', The Sydney Morning Herald, July 7, 2008

In August 2008 it marked its first venture into the United Kingdom by acquiring Carnival Films.

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, Geneon Universal Entertainment Japan.

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). 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.

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


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 SKGmarker 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 (DreamWorks has since become independent again).

In July 2008, NBC Universal partnered with the New York Film Academymarker to break ground in training a new breed of digital journalists. Steve Capus, President NBC News, and Today show anchor Hoda Kotb will teach master classes to students in the Digital Broadcast Journalism program.

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. 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!, Versus and regional properties. GE would maintain 49% control of the new company, while Comcast owned 51%.

On November 1st, 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. [68076]

On December 1st, 2009, CNBC reported that the deal between Comcast and GE was complete, subject to regulatory approval. Under the proposal, NBC Universal would be 51% owned by Comcast and 49% by GE. Comcast would contribute $4 billion to $6 billion cash, and NBC Universal would gain control of Comcast's existing cable properties.

Parks and resorts

NBC Universal and Blackstone Group own the following parks and resorts:
*Universal Studios Floridamarker
*Universal's Islands of Adventuremarker
*Wet 'n Wild - Orlando


The website Hulu is a joint venture of NBC Universal, Fox Entertainment Group and ABC, Inc. 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.


  1. [1]
  2. " NBC Universal to sell Burbank, Calif, studio." MarketWatch. Retrieved on August 28, 2009.
  4. NBC and Citadel's Final Try for ION, New York Post,
  5. Breaking News - Nbc Universal Re-Names Nbc Universal Television Studio As Universal Media Studios | Thefutoncritic.Com
  6. NBC Universal, Microsoft in Ad Alliance, MarketWatch, June 18, 2009
  7. [2]
  8. Sci Fi Channel Has a New Name - Now, It's Syfy, New York Times, March 16, 2009
  9. Syfy is Not Your Father's Sci-Fi, CNN, July 7, 2009
  10. A&E Acquires Lifetime,, August 27, 2009
  11. A&E Networks, Lifetime Merger Completed, Broadcasting & Cable, August 27, 2009
  12. Comcast in Talks to Buy NBC Universal,, October 1, 2009
  13. GE is in Talks to Spin Off NBC, Give Comcast 51% of New Unit,, October 1, 2009
  14. GE and Comcast Exploring a Spin-Off of NBC Universal, New York Times, October 1, 2009

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