Comcast cable customers have access to the WatchESPN app. That extends ESPN's mobile reach to 40 million, according to data released on the above-cited call. Comcast must play a balancing act between giving its subscribers what they want (access to properties such as ESPN across devices) and promoting their own competitive offerings.
Content. That's what it comes down to. NBC Sports airs plenty of solid programming, ranging from the National Football League to PGA Golf to the current cornerstones of the NBC Sports Network, the National Hockey League and the Tour de France. Both networks will cover the Summer Olympics, with sister stations, MSNBC and CNBC, likely picking up some events, just as CNBC did during this past season's NHL playoffs.
In terms of content, however, ESPN still dominates. Not only does it broadcast all major sports -- on a much more consistent and frequent basis than NBC -- it owns the image of the go-to network for sports programming. The only way NBC, and the NBC Sports Network in particular, can chip away at this is to make a stand for the content that allows ESPN to build the brand -- that means major events and the ongoing coverage that brings eyeballs night after night, such as Major League Baseball and NBA broadcasts.
In terms of penetration, NBC Sports Network is actually not all that far behind ESPN. According to Comcast and Disney's most recent annual reports, ESPN counts about 99 million subscribers, while NBC Sports Network boasts 76 million. By comparison, ESPN 2 reaches 99 million subscribers, ESPN News (73 million), CNBC (97 million), MSNBC (95 million) and Comcast's Golf Channel (85 million).To most effectively compete for content, NBC Sports Network needs to sport a larger subscriber number. At the same time, it can always leverage its ability to run programming on NBC as well as its other powerful cable networks. Endpoint: As I continue to argue, premium content is what makes media stocks strong buys. I love Disney as well as Comcast. Sports remain the end-all and be-all of premium content. If Comcast can chip away at ESPN and similar media stalwarts, it might just replace Disney as the sports and entertainment leader of the new century. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage. Follow @RoccoPendola
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV