Comcast has made a few acquisitions in the Internet space. In April 2007 it acquired movie ticket site Fandango for $200 million. The Company is aggressively eyeing the Social Networking / Web 2.0 space. Perhaps it wants to make up for missing out on MySpace and You Tube. The Company is also looking at acquisitions in the entertainment space, its mainstay.
There are rumors of Comcast acquiring BuddyTV, a content and community for Fans to interact around shows and stars. BuddyTV, coupled with its Fancast.com property would be a good roll-up of the space. More and more people are going online to find and listen to music, watch and discuss movies, and gossip about celebrities. Nielsen//NetRatings select sample of 19-celebrity gossip sites finds that audience growth increased 40% year over year in February 2007.
In the online movie space Comcast could consider acquiring Flixster, a San Francisco based social network where users rate and discuss movies. The site closed a $2 million round of financing in January 2007 with LightSpeed Ventures. Only a year old, Flixster is already one of the largest movie sites on the web with over 15 million registered users and over 500 million movie ratings. It could also consider acquiring iwatchstuff.com or FirstShowing.net, to build on the Fandango cornerstone.
In the online music space the Company could consider acquiring companies like Songbird, MyStrands, MOG, Slacker, Amie Street, etc. MyStrands is a music discovery platform and recommendation site. The site recently raised $25 million in its second round of venture capital financing. Online Music, however, is not an easy space, and it is most certainly Viacom and Apple’s stronghold. May not be that easy for Comcast to build a strong presence in it, and I am not comfortable recommending that they go in this direction.
Comcast could consider expanding its online shopping business, where it has a partnership with Pricegrabber.com. To enhance its presence in this area, Comcast could buy Pricegrabber from its parent, Irish company Experian Group. Only if Experian wants to sell, obviously. There are many other comparison shopping sites, of course. I have covered several of them here (TheFind, Wize, Retrevo), and we know that eBay is hinting a roll-up of the comparison shopping space. Again, this may not be an easy space for Comcast to play in either, as it has no DNA for the business. However, there are numerous comparison shopping startups all over the place, and it is quite possible to string together a portfolio via acquisitions, even if eBay rolls up the space. Comcast should know that they would need to compete with eBay in their home-turf.
Similarly, Comcast could buy its Travel search engine partner Kayak, which is a private company, and put together a full-fledged Web 3.0 offering in that space. BBC recently bought Lonely Planet. Comcast could go for a more ambitious acquisition like Discovery Channel, or anther travel guide like Rough Guide.
This would give them a Content angle. Beyond that, they would need Travel related Community sites, as well as Expedia-like Travel booking engines. Or, they could acquire Orbitz, which is not having such a great time as a public company right now. [We did an Web 3.0 review of Orbitz earlier this year.]
Overall, I would say, Comcast’s strategy of diversifying out of the Telco / Cable business requires that they become a serious Interactive Media company, a Web 3.0 company really, and that requires a few serious acquisitions making a stake in some major segments of the Web. From the above review, the possibilities that emerge, besides strengthening positions in Film and TV, are Travel and Shopping.