As of a few hours ago, rumors suggest that Comcast, the #1 TV provider in the US, as well as the owner of NBC, its family of cable networks including NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, Universal Pictures and many other assets, will additionally acquire Time Warner Cable, the #3 provider of TV in the US. This comes on the heels of a new hostile takeover attempt by Charter Cable to reseat all of TWC’s existing Board.
Time Warner Cable’s performance and behavior has been so atrocious that its acquisition is inevitable – though its acquisition by America’s #1 broadband provider would mean an enormous consolidation of both old-school and digital media power.
Most recently, TWC engaged in a public and bruising carriage dispute with CBS – serving only to infuriate many thousands of customers and to disrupt the seasons of both the NFL and Homeland. It later reported subscriber losses of over 300,000 customers – the worst losses by far for an industry in constant fear of defections by cord cutters and cord shavers.
As if that weren’t enough, it presided over a massive service failure during – ahem – the Super Bowl.
To which it responded with perhaps the stupidest mass communication in television history: an offer for a $5.99 Pay Per View as a make good (see below).
There will be clear legal concerns here: Comcast and Time Warner Cable were both beneficiaries of the collapse of crime-ridden Adelphia Cable – effectively dividing the spoils of those territories between them. This resulted in specific FCC legislation requiring the two largest cable companies not to abuse their oligopoly.
Now that it looks to become a monopoly, we’ll hear what the new story from regulators will be. More tomorrow.