A merger of two of the biggest cable providers in the United States could bring new opportunities for consumers, workers and businesses in the region, analysts said.
In the coming weeks, the companies plan to make their case to regulators, who will decide whether they are able to break the regulatory lock that holds Comcast and NBCUniversal together and allow the deal to go through.
The two companies, which are part of Comcast Corp., were merged in March, and the combined company will become the largest cable company in the nation.
It plans to make about $8.5 billion in annual revenue from the deal, according to data from MoffettNathanson, a research firm that specializes in merger activity.
That makes it the biggest merger of its kind in U.S. history, and its approval could help spur the broader consolidation of the cable industry, analysts say.
The deal has been widely expected for months, and analysts have been expecting it for some time, given that Comcast and its smaller competitor, NBCUniversal, were not able to agree on a merger agreement earlier this year.
The deal was supposed to be finalized in the spring but was pushed back to July after a disagreement between Comcast and the Justice Department.
That deal also could benefit Comcast, which already has a dominant position in the television and Internet video market, analysts and executives say.
While it’s still not clear whether the deal will benefit consumers, Comcast and other cable companies have been able to increase profits and stock prices by buying back their shares, which have appreciated as cable TV subscribers have dropped by more than a quarter in the past year.
That helped boost the stock price of the combined companies in the weeks before the merger.
And Comcast has been able more or less to control the distribution of its cable networks, even though it’s no longer the largest provider.
Its cable networks include NBC, CBS and Showtime, and it’s also in charge of the satellite television services Dish Network and DirecTV Now.
But that’s not necessarily the case with NBCUniversal.
The company has been buying up its own cable channels to give it more clout in the cable market, which has become dominated by cable companies like Comcast.
Its programming and sports networks, including NBC, are not available on Comcast’s networks.
And the company is not allowed to carry TV shows or sports events, so it can’t offer a strong competitive advantage.
For consumers, it’s a significant move, said Josh Zink, an analyst with Moffettnathanson.
“It’s an opportunity to go to the same cable provider that has so much more money in it and has an advantage in market share than we do,” Zink said.
“There are some potential benefits for consumers in that respect, but the question is whether the consumers are going to get the same benefits.”
Comcast said in a statement that the deal would “make our companies better positioned to meet consumers’ expectations and deliver more value for them.”
The company is also offering $1.5 million in incentives to customers who sign up for its TV streaming service, NBC Live, to help boost their cable bills.
In addition to the incentives, Comcast said it is offering customers $1,000 cash for each month they do not have their broadband connection, and that it is extending its wireless data plans for a year.
Comcast is also extending its data and broadband plans for another year.
The combined company said it will invest $200 million in a new, expanded digital television channel called NBC LivePlus, which will offer live video, sports and documentaries in the U.K., Australia and Canada.
NBC Live Plus will be available to the U, U.N. and other member nations.
The company said that the NBC Live service will be accessible to NBCUniversal’s video streaming service and NBC, and will be integrated into the NBCUniversal video app on mobile devices.