Comcast Playing Hardball with Google?

The Wall Street Journal reports (behind pay wall), based on “people familiar with the matter,” that cable operator Comcast is talking to Microsoft to replace Google as the search provider on the homepage of its broadband subscribers. According to the story, Comcast is making $70 million in shared revenue, but feels entitled to at least $100 million.

That could mean one of two things: either Comcast is shopping its business, or its looking for a better deal with Google. In either case, Comcast wins in this situation.

The first option is that Comcast is not happy with their current deal with Google to supply search for their broadband customer portal, and the WSJ reporters are so well connected they were able to get the scoop against Comcast’s wishes to keep the negotiations private. If it’s true, Comcast will likely get a better deal on the revenue sharing arrangement and other terms, and Comcast is happy.

The second scenario is much more likely, in my opinion. Usually “people familiar with the matter” have an agenda. If someone from Comcast, for example, wanted to send a message to Google, then what better way than to share this juicy bit of information with the WSJ, under condition of anonymity? Google feels the pressure, offers a better deal, and Comcast is happy.

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