NEW YORK – Viacom and cable giant Comcast plan to unveil a wide-ranging joint venture that will create several new cable networks, The Post has learned.
The venture, which will be jointly owned by Comcast (CMCSA) and Viacom's (VIA.B) MTV Networks (search), will include several lifestyle channels — on topics such as cars and wealth — as well as video-on-demand and e-commerce, according to a source close to Comcast.
The deal would bring together the country's largest cable company in Comcast and what is arguably the industry's most powerful cable programmer in MTV Networks.
A spokesman for Comcast declined comment. A representative for MTV Networks also declined comment.
John Sykes, the former head of Viacom's radio division Infinity Broadcasting (search), is heading up the joint venture, sources said.
The deal is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
It appears that what Comcast failed to do in one fell swoop it is now trying to accomplish with a series of smaller moves. Last year, the Philadelphia-based cable operator made a bold bid to take over Disney (DIS) — a move that, had it succeeded, would have instantly transformed the company into one of the world's largest media companies, powerful both in content and distribution.
But since the failed takeover bid, Comcast chief Brian Roberts has hardly abandoned his content ambitions.
A year ago, the company swooped in at the last minute to join a group of investors led by Sony that was bidding on movie studio MGM. The deal allows Comcast to use Sony and MGM content for video-on-demand services and to create new cable networks.
Comcast has also teamed with Time Warner (TWX) and the New York Mets (search) to launch a new sports network, and in the past has expressed interest in acquiring a large stake in the Yankees' YES Network.
And if Comcast can't own ESPN, whose corporate parent is Disney, then it hopes to at least compete with the sports juggernaut. Comcast is transforming its Outdoor Life Network (search) into a broad-based national sports network.
OLN, which has mostly been known for airing minor sporting events — at least to American sports fans — such as the Iditarod dog races and the Tour de France, will now carry the National Hockey League.
OLN is also expected to bid for a Thursday and Saturday night NFL package, and may make a run at rights for Major League Baseball.