Welcome to the broadband and cable news roundup, Hump Day edition.
Comcast Corp. and other cable operators encouraged Arris Group Inc. to make a play for Motorola Mobility LLC's Home division, Arris President and CEO Bob Stanzione said Tuesday at a Needham & Co. investor's conference. Comcast ended up doing a bit more than urge -- Comcast, Arris's largest customer, is poised to make a $150 million investment that will give it a 7.85 percent stake in Arris when the vendor seals up its $2.35 billion acquisition of Motorola Home from Google.
"From the outset, when it became known that Google was thinking about divesting this asset, we received a lot of encouragement from customers, including Comcast, to go after it," Stanzione said. "So we met with Comcast … and this was before the process even began, and we were conjecturing over how we would do it. And they [Comcast] offered their help." Stanzione said the proposed investment signals that Comcast sees Arris/Moto as an important asset to the industry, "but has an upside, too." He said other customers were interested, but "decided not to participate as equity holders." (See Comcast to Plow $150M Into Arris.)
Stanzione also likes Arris's chances of finding opportunities in a declining set-top box market, believing that that the current generation of "old, tired equipment" out there today will give way to a new class of hybrid QAM/IP gateways and IP-only clients. That transition, he said, is "going to be a slow, steady growth, but I don't think it's going to be a continuous decline." (See Comcast All-Service Gateways Go 'Headless'.)
Comcast could snap up full ownership of NBCUniversal LLC in a deal with General Electric sooner than expected, Investor's Business Dailyreports, citing analysts who see such a deal fetching about $16 billion. Comcast bought a 51 percent stake in NBCU from GE in 2011, with Comcast slated to snap up the rest in two stages -- in 2014 and 2018. "It's clear that GE wants to exit NBCU in its entirety," Citigroup analyst Deane Dray told the publication. "If Comcast were to look to do it earlier, GE would be perfectly fine with that." (See Comcast to Take Control of NBC.)
The number of U.S. cable homes dropped by about 2.7 million customers between the third quarter of 2011 and the third quarter of 2012, The Nielsen Co. revealed in its latest Cross-Platform Report (registration required). U.S. satellite TV service providers added 124,000 subs between them during that period, while the major U.S. telcos added 1.26 million. The number of homes relying solely on over-the-air TV reached 11.11 million at the end of the period, up 67,000. And a number of particular interest to those tracking the cord-cutting trend: 5.26 million of those broadcast-only homes also subscribed to broadband, a figure that rose 153,000 year-over-year.
Mark Giesbers, the director of marketing and content at UPC Netherlands, has joined the mother ship, Liberty Global Inc., to be VP of video products, where he'll head up projects such as Horizon TV, the MSO's new IP-capable platform, reports Broadband TV News.
Cox Enterprises Inc. and entrepreneur/Cox board member Tripp Rackley have earmarked $250 million to incubate technology startups. Rackley's Southern Experience Inc., a company that has created an app that lets consumers upgrade their seats using smartphones during games or other live events, is the first beneficiary of the fund. Cox Enterprises, which counts Cox Communications Inc. and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution among its subsidiaries, is operating the new partnership as a standalone entity.