Who Owns NBC? Big Three Television In The US

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By David

NBC is part of the Big Three television networks. Or the three major traditional commercial broadcast television networks in the US. Those are NBC, ABC, and CBS. These three dominated American television until the 1990s. Today, they are still among the major US broadcast companies. Who owns NBC? What is the history of the television network?

NBC or the National Broadcasting Company is an American English language commercial broadcast television and radio network. Headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, the company has offices in Los Angeles and Chicago as well.

Sometimes people refer to NBC as the peacock network because of the stylized peacock logo. The logo was introduced in 1956 to promote innovations in early color broadcasting by NBC.

NBC was founded in 1926 by the Radio Corporation of America. It is the oldest major broadcast network in the United States. Back in the day, RCA’s parent company was General Electric. In 1932, GE was forced to sell RCA and NBC because of antitrust charges.

GE took back control of RCA in 1986. Who owns the NBC channel in 2021? We have the answers.

Comcast Acquires NBC

In December 2009, Comcast announced its intent to acquire a majority stake in NBCUniversal from General Electric. Despite the scrutiny from activists and government officials, Comcast acquired 51% of the media company.

Activists voiced their concern because of the potential effects of vertical integration. Comcast is also heavily involved in cable television and internet services in many media markets.

At the time of the purchase, Comcast was the largest cable television provider in the US. In 2004, Comcast also attempted a hostile takeover of The Walt Disney Company, but that didn’t go through.

Negotiations between Comcast and NBC Universal began as early as March 2009. At the time, News Corporation and Time Warner were also interested in purchasing NBC. But by September 2009, Comcast stood out as the only partner in any potential sale.

The overall deal was held up by negotiations between Vivendi for the sale of its 20% stake to GE. But by December, Comcast announced they will get a majority stake at NBC Universal. The deal was structured in a way that Vivendi sold its stake to GE for $5.8 billion, and Comcast paid $6.5 billion for a stake of NBC Universal.

NBC Universal became a joint venture between Comcast and GE, with the former company owning a 51% majority stake.

At the time, Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts described the deal as “a perfect fit” for the company. This allowed Comcast to bolster its role as a creator and distributor of content.

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The Comcast Corporation

The merger gave a new scale to the company. It expanded Comcast’s scale significantly. Mark Leccese of The Boston Globe painted the situation perfectly. The combined company consisted of 10 TV and movie production studios, 20 cable channels, 11 regional broadcast TV stations, 15 Telemundo stations, 9 regional sports cable networks, one regional news cable station, many websites, and even sports teams.

The deal was not approved until 2011 when the Federal Communications Commission approved the takeover.

The merger combined the nation’s largest cable company and residential Internet service provider with one of the world’s biggest producers of TV shows and motion pictures.

Quick History of NBC

NBC was founded in 1926 by the Radio Corporation of America. It remains the oldest major broadcast network in the United States. Here is a quick history and notable moments of the company’s history.

  • David Sarnoff founds the nation’s first permanent radio network in 1926
  • Real Folks premiered on NBC on August 6, 1928, as the first serial drama
  • Universal releases its first talking picture, Melody of Love, a romantic drama in 1929
  • Universal wins its first Academy Award for Best Picture in 1930 with the acclaimed epic war film All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Dracula and Frankenstein mark the beginning of Universal’s leadership in the horror genre in 1931
  • Bob Hope started his long broadcasting career in 1933
  • NBC Radio broadcasts the 1936 Berlin Olympics and African-American athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals
  • In 1937, Italian maestro Arturo Toscanini makes his first appearance conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade becomes a television tradition, it first aired as a local telecast in 1939
  • Burlesque comic duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello make their debut in 1940 with One Night in the Tropics
  • In July 1941, WNBT, later WNBC aired the first television commercial
  • In 1947, The New York Yankees defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first televised World Series in 7 games. Almost 4 million people watched it, with 3 million of them watching from the local tavern
  • NBC televised the nominating conventions in 1948, playing a major role in covering a presidential election
  • In 1950, Bob Hope made his television debut with an Easter Sunday Special. The same year, NBC pioneered daytime television with Kate Smith Hour
  • NBC’s Dragnet debuts as one of the early and most successful crime series. The show started on radio in 1949 but moved to television in 1951
  • In 1952, David Garroway was the first host of the Today Show
  • By 1953, NBC begins first compatible color broadcasts, nine years before other networks
  • In 1954, the Tonight Show, the first successful late-night talk show debuts on NBC with Steve Allen
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  • In 1956, NBC’s new peacock logo debuts to promote color programing
  • Nat King Cole became the first major black artist with his own network series in 1956 on NBC
  • In 1959, Bonanza, the first TV Western series in color debuts and runs for 14 years on NBC
  • In 1960, NBC continued its political support, initiating a presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon, reaching more than 69 million people via TV
  • NBC covered the assassination and funeral of President Kennedy with more than 400 newsmen and mobile units during the 71 hours of coverage
  • In 1966, the future cult hit Star Trek debuted on NBC. Fun fact: the iconic series was ranked 52nd in its first season
  • In 1968, Diahann Carroll was the first African-American woman to star in her own comedy television series, Julia
  • The Sting premieres on NBC in 1973. The movie, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford won seven Academy Awards
  • In 1974, one of the most successful family series, Little House on the Prairie, debuts on NBC
  • In 1983, the NBC program received 133 Emmy Award Nominations, the most ever by one network
  • The next year, The Cosby Show debuted, quickly becoming one of the most popular TV series
  • In 1985, NBC’s Today aired the first-ever live telecast from the coliseum in Rome. It was the first time American TV cameras were allowed inside the Pauline Chapel
  • The same year, Back to the Future premiered, the most popular time-traveling adventure to this day
  • In 1987, NBC’s Today went on the road to the People’s Republic of China, reporting on the cultural treasures
  • The television company launched CNBC, first successful foray into the cable industry in 1989
  • The same year, Seinfeld premiered
  • In 1990, Law & Order, the mother ship of successful crime series franchise, made its debut on NBC
  • In 1992, Jay Leno made his debut as the host of The Tonight Show
  • One year later, the Schindler’s List, the best movie to this date by experts, debuted on NBC Universal
  • Just one year later, blockbuster hit ER premiered on Thursday nights on NBC
  • In 1994, another hit show made its debut, NBC Comedy Friends premiered on Thursday nights as well
  • By 1995, Jay Leno’s Tonight show recaptured the dominance in late-night programming, surpassing David Letterman
  • In 1998, Seinfeld aired the final episode, attracting more than 76 million viewers
  • In 2002, NBC acquired Telemundo and Bravo, giving the television company access to the second-largest Spanish language broadcaster
  • By 2006, CNBC launched the website CNBC.com, the most popular destination for stock market news, information, and headlines
  • In 2008, NBC Sports broadcasted the first-ever outdoor NHL game, the inaugural Winter Classic held in the United States
  • In 2008, Hulu launched, a joint venture between NBC Universal (Now Comcast) and Walt Disney company
  • Comcast completes its acquisition of NBC Universal in January 2011, starting the Age of Comcast


  •  In 2020, NBC Universal launched Peacock, strategically entering the streaming market with a free and ad-supported model