It’s (All Gonna Be) Comcastic!

Dave Zatz —  February 13, 2014 — 23 Comments

comcastic

Charter had been looking to tie up the country’s second largest cable operator, but #1 Comcast has swooped in with a $45 billion agreement to acquire Time Warner Cable. The deal will be closely scrutinized by federal regulators, but at least one pundit expects minimal push back given their largely distinct areas of operation. However, that simplistic analysis overlooks Comcast’s identity as a media entity along with dramatically increased negotiating power when it comes to retransmission and licensing (in both directions). Further, Public Knowledge has concerns in relation to such a large percent of Americas relying on a single entity for their voice and data services. Having said all that, TWC isn’t a great cable company for TiVo owners and a Comcast infrastructure would be a significant improvement. Assuming we’re still using TiVo after the years required to close the deal, remove the punitive content restrictions, and retrofit those head-ends.

23 responses to It’s (All Gonna Be) Comcastic!

  1. And I was just thinking yesterday as I headed out of town ahead of the big snow storm that Comcast’s iOS app is far superior to Verizon’s with those show downloads.

  2. I don’t see this making a difference to retail TiVo owners in TWC or Comcast areas. It’s probably good for TiVo in that Charter would’ve probably used TWC’s ODN/Navigator and now they are fully going to have to buy something in the marketplace. However, for TWC customers removing the CCI byte restrictions seems like something that would get overlooked and fall through the cracks and just remain disjointed between former TWC systems on a regional basis.

  3. “TWC isn’t a great cable company for TiVo owners”

    But, OTOH, Comcast isn’t a great cable company for Roku owners.

    Not to mention that Comcast has been by far the most aggressive major ISP in using the peering loophole to severely throttle 3rd party OTT video. And that was prior to the recent anti-Net Neutrality court ruling making such throttling fully above-board. One would expect Comcast to become even more aggressive against 3rd party OTT video in the Brave New World.

    So, this might be a minor win for TiVo users looking to stream outside the LAN, but I think it’s probably a far more major overall loss for video consumers. (In the non-existent world where I had a binary choice between Comcast and TWC as my wireline provider, I’d easily choose TWC…)

  4. “However, that simplistic analysis overlooks Comcast’s identity as a media entity along with dramatically increased negotiating power when it comes to retransmission and licensing (in both directions).”

    No doubt. Not to mention that this is yet another reason why Comcast will continue to be the most hostile wireline provider to 3rd party OTT video…

  5. Let them Eat Cake & Give A Circus for the Masses

  6. Your invitation to the tent party at the WhiteHouse for the President of France was lost in the mail.
    When Comcast eats AOL/TimeWarner the library of American Media will be controlled by a ‘table’ of guys with an AGENDA.
    The schools have been lost already, free thought is next.

  7. Good points. Comcast is better for TiVo owners because it doesn’t set the CCI byte everywhere, but TWC is better for roku owners, because there’s no Xfinity roku channel and HBO GO doesn’t work with comcast on roku.

    Really though, they’re both evil and it’s difficult to tell a major difference.

  8. “Comcast to acquire Internet and FCC.”

    I believe this is incorrect, as Comcast already acquired the FCC. The Internet is the only new thing they’ll acquire once the deal is approved.

    —–

    Gigaom makes the (quite plausible to me) point that this probably will directly lead into broadband caps.

  9. Comcast will enter the education of children business with the Common Core lesson plan. The teachers who were told, ‘If you Like Your School. . .’

  10. “Really though, they’re both evil and it’s difficult to tell a major difference.”

    Pretty strongly disagree.

    Comcast’s horizontal integration in being a major content company, along with their massive political influence through their ‘news’ operation makes them far more dangerous and anti-consumer than a simple wireline provider like TWC.

    For example, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Comcast has been far more obstructive to 3rd party OTT video than TWC, (or any other major wireline provider).

    Personally, I’m a FIOS customer in a market served by TWC, and every time I negotiate a new contract with FIOS, I tell them I’m completely willing to shift to TWC if they won’t offer me a price/feature package I consider fair for the market. And I’ve fully meant that threat. I like FIOS, but I’d have shifted to TWC if FIOS hadn’t been willing to be competitive on price. But assuming the merger is approved, (as I fully expect it will be given Comcast’s political influence), I might make that threat to FIOS next time around, but I’d probably be bluffing about moving to Comcast, while I wasn’t bluffing about moving to TWC.

  11. TWC was spun out as a separate entity, but their corp offices share the same building as Time Warner. I’m sure there’s a “chinese wall” between the two. But really, they have content interests too. That will change post-merger, of course.

  12. Comcast is already the largest cable provider; largest ISP and a major content owner, with NBC and Universal. If this deal goes through, they would REALLY become the “elephant in the room”…even more than Disney!

  13. “TWC was spun out as a separate entity, but their corp offices share the same building as Time Warner. I’m sure there’s a “chinese wall” between the two. But really, they have content interests too.”

    They may not have physically re-located for whatever reason, but the fact that there is no cross-ownership matters far more. No cross-ownership, and no shared executives. If TWC really did have content interests, (which I’m strongly asserting they don’t), they’d be acting a whole lot more like Comcast in dealing with 3rd party OTT video. (And Time-Warner would be acting differently too. If Time-Warner really had any control over TWC, this merger simply wouldn’t be happening.)

  14. Well, we have no way to tell either way.

    I’ve been thinking about it, and I wouldn’t be for this merger even if both parties were forced to completely divest themselves of all content interests. IE, even if comcast was forced to sell NBCU, I’d still be against it.

  15. I’ve been thinking about it, and I wouldn’t be for this merger even if … comcast was forced to sell NBCU.

    I agree with you. Giving one wireline provider such an overwhelmingly massive market share, even if the two companies weren’t actually competing with one another in any market, is pretty obviously a bad idea.

    But the actual reality of Comcast’s horizontal integration and political reach make it far, far, far worse. As stated, I think we’ll see broadband caps pretty soon, among other anti-consumer deleterious effects.

  16. Has anyone heard rumors that Comcast is using individual households routers to create free hotspots that anyone can piggyback on WITHOUT the subscriber’s consent or even telling the subscriber that this is happening?

  17. 3 million TWC subscribers will not become Comcast subscribers but probably Charter subscribers as Comcast will divest subscribers so the deal passes regulators.

    Comcast argued that the acquisition would be beneficial to consumers in that it would roll out its more advanced cloud-based set-top boxes to Time Warner Cable customers. It also said the deal would eventually result in higher broadband speeds.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/13/us-comcast-timewarnercable-idUSBREA1C05A20140213

  18. Bryan, I had to edit down your comment. It’s not right for us to republish such a large excerpt and Google penalizes based on copied content. Thanks.

  19. I happily take my correction from Polka.

    What I twice complained about upthread as “horizontal integration” is correctly termed vertical integration.

    My axes were off.

  20. Decent piece from Timothy B. Lee on why the merger is against the consumer interest.

    Also, if you play the market, might be a good time to short Netflix…

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