What Are the Top 5 Companies Owned by Comcast

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) is a global media and technology conglomerate. The company was founded in 1963 when Ralph Roberts purchased American Cable Systems, a small subscriber cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi.

The cable company was subsequently incorporated under the name Comcast, had its first public stock offering in 1972, and has since grown into a world leader in media, entertainment, and technology. Now led by CEO Brian Roberts, the founder's son, Comcast boasts a market cap of $160.4 billion. In 2019, the company posted annual net income of $13.3 billion on revenue of $108.9 billion.

Understanding the Top 5 Companies Owned by Comcast

Comcast's growth from a small cable operator into a multi-billion dollar media and tech giant has been driven to a large extent by strategic acquisitions, both horizontal and vertical. Horizontal acquisitions have helped the company expand into a leading provider of high-speed internet, video, voice, wireless, and security and automation systems.

Part of this expansion is attributable to Comcast's in-house Xfinity brand. Comcast has used other acquisitions to strengthen and broaden the types of media content businesses the company is engaged in, including cable television, broadcast television stations, filmed entertainment, theme parks, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Comcast's growth from a small cable operator into a multi-billion dollar media and tech giant has been driven by strategic acquisitions.
  • Comcast has used acquisitions to strengthen and broaden the types of businesses in which the company is engaged, including cable television, broadcast television stations, filmed entertainment, theme parks, and more.
  • Five of the most important acquisitions Comcast has made are AT&T Broadband, NBCUniversal, Sky, DreamWorks Animation, and XUMO. 

The company has not always been successful in snapping up every company that it has tried to acquire. In an attempt to acquire Fox two years ago, Comcast lost out to Walt Disney Co. (DIS). Comcast tried unsuccessfully to take over Disney in 2004.

AT&T Broadband

  • Type of Business: Broadband Services Provider
  • Acquisition Price: $47.5 billion
  • Acquisition Date: Nov. 18, 2002

AT&T has its origins in the 1876 invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. In the following year, Bell and his partners founded the Bell Telephone Company. AT&T was subsequently incorporated as a subsidiary of Bell.

In 1899 it became the parent company of the entire Bell system after purchasing all of Bell's assets. Fast forward more than 100 years later, when AT&T in 2000 restructured into separately traded companies, one of which was AT&T Broadband.

Comcast acquired AT&T Broadband in 2002 in hopes that the cable provider would become a leading communications, media, and entertainment company. The acquisition has helped Comcast to provide faster broadband speeds as well as offer more innovative television services throughout the U.S.

NBCUniversal

  • Type of Business: Mass Media
  • Acquisition Price: $22.9 billion (see discussion below) 
  • Acquisition Date: Jan. 28, 2011 (51%) and Feb. 12, 2013 (49%)
  • Annual Revenue (2019): $34.0 billion
  • Annual Adjusted EBITDA (2019): $8.7 billion

NBCUniversal was the product of a 2004 merger of television network National Broadcasting Co. Inc., a subsidiary of General Electric Co. (GE), and French media conglomerate Vivendi Universal Entertainment. In 2011, Comcast acquired a 51% stake in the company from GE, thus forming a joint venture (JV). Comcast paid GE $6.2 billion in cash and contributed certain programming assets worth $7.25 billion to the JV. Comcast purchased the remaining 49% of NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion in 2013.

NBCUniversal is now a leading media and entertainment company that develops, produces, and distributes entertainment, news, information, sports, and a variety of other content for global audiences. The business also operates theme parks worldwide. NBCUniversal operates through four segments: Cable Networks, Broadcast Television, Filmed Entertainment, and Theme Parks.

Sky

  • Type of Business: Broadcast and Telecommunications
  • Acquisition Price: Estimated at $40 billion
  • Acquisition Date: Oct. 9, 2018
  • Annual Revenue (2019): $19.2 billion
  • Annual Adjusted EBITDA (2019): $3.1 billion

Sky Broadcasting originated from an earlier merger between Rupert Murdoch's Sky Television and British Satellite Broadcasting. Comcast subsequently beat out rival Disney in securing control over Sky in 2018.

Sky is a leading European entertainment company, which provides video, high-speed internet, voice and wireless phone services. It also operates a content business, including entertainment networks, the Sky News broadcast network, and Sky Sports networks. The acquisition helped Comcast expand its international reach.

DreamWorks Animation

  • Type of Business: Animation Studio
  • Acquisition Price: $3.8 billion
  • Acquisition Date: Aug. 22, 2016

DreamWorks Animation originated as a division of DreamWorks SKG, which was founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen, hence the "S", "K", and "G" in the company name. The company spun off DreamWorks Animation into a separate company in 2004. It was acquired 12 years later in 2016 by Comcast's subsidiary, NBCUniversal.

DreamWorks Animation now forms a part of Comcast's Filmed Entertainment business. The studio produces animated film and television content, expanding Comcast's kids and family media entertainment offerings.

XUMO

  • Type of Business: Online Video Streaming
  • Acquisition Price: not disclosed; estimated at $100 million.
  • Acquisition Date: Feb. 25, 2020

XUMO was found in 2011 as a JV between Viant Technology (then called Interactive Media Holdings) and Panasonic. The company was subsequently acquired by Comcast for an undisclosed amount earlier this year.

XUMO offers free streaming entertainment, news, sports, and more with more than 190 different channels. It will continue to operate as an independent business within Comcast Cable. The acquisition expands Comcast's video-streaming offerings and specifically provides free streaming content to consumers willing to watch advertisements that accompany that content.