As Comcast closes in on its acquisition of NBC, one of the looming problems for the cable company is what to do with the NBC network.
While some have suggested Comcast sell off the broadcast network, we have an alternative solution.
Take all the USA Network programming and put it on NBC, and take all the NBC programming and put it on USA.
NBC is an unprofitable weight on NBC Universal, thanks to expensive programming that’s supported from just advertising.
The USA cable network is a lower cost operation with solid programming commanding an affliate fee in the range of $0.40-$.70 per household.
Comcast should take the two properties and gradually flip them. Put all the expensive programming, and NFL football on USA. Take all the cheap, but well done programming on USA and put it on NBC.
Then when it’s time to renogotiate its contract with the cable companies, Comcast can point to all the great programming on USA, and ratchet up the fees into the $1.00 or more range. Meanwhile, the shows on NBC pulled from USA should produce solid ratings at a much lower cost, making the operation more economically feasible.
But aren’t you going to lose a huge portion of the audience, since NBC is a network, and USA is cable? Not really. Almost all cable providers carry USA. Granted, network television still delivers a large share of viewers each night, but that’s changing.
Even if Comcast doesn’t take this exact solution, it’s going to have to solve the NBC problem somehow. Some variation on this — low cost programming, that isn’t the Jay Leno show, will need to be considered. So it might as well move its expensive shows to USA where it can get paid twice.