Comcast and Time Warner Cable have agreed to merge, forming what will undoubtedly be a cable industry juggernaut. Though the deal is already in place, there's still plenty left to happen: regulators will have to examine the deal closely, with anticompetitive concerns threatening its approval. Comcast expects the deal to close by the end of 2014.
Apr 24, 2015
Comcast has officially abandoned its $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, after encountering resistance from regulators. "Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away," said Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts in a statement. "Comcast NBC Universal is a unique company with strong momentum. Throughout this entire process, our employees have kept their eye on the ball and we have had fantastic operating results. I want to thank them and the employees of Time Warner Cable for their tireless efforts. I couldn't be more proud of this company and I am truly excited for what's next."Read Article >
Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the two largest cable and broadband companies in the US, announced the merger last February. Despite their size, Comcast argued that the two served different enough markets that customers would not notice a drop in competition. It also agreed to spin off some Time Warner Cable subscribers, keeping its ownership of the US cable TV market under 30 percent. Nonetheless, the resulting company was likely to control a significant portion of the US broadband market. The proposal was rumored to have died earlier this week after the companies met with the FCC and Justice Department, both of whom expressed concerns about the power of a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable. On Wednesday, the FCC apparently suggested a "hearing designation order" that could delay or kill the deal, and Comcast's stake in Hulu (acquired through its merger with NBC Universal in 2011) reportedly concerned the Justice Department.
Jan 26, 2015
On August 21st, 2014, Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, Georgia, sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission expressing emphatic support for Comcast’s controversial effort to merge with Time Warner Cable. Not only did the mayor’s letter express personal excitement for the gargantuan deal — which critics say will create a monopoly that will harm millions of consumers — but it also claimed that the entire town of Roswell adored Comcast. "When Comcast makes a promise to act, it is comforting to know that they will always follow through," Wood's letter explained. "This is the type of attitude that makes Roswell proud to be involved with such a company," the letter asserts, "our residents are happy with the services it has provided and continues to provide each day.”Read Article >
Yet Wood’s letter made one key omission: Neither Wood nor anyone representing Roswell’s residents wrote his letter to the FCC. Instead, a vice president of external affairs at Comcast authored the missive word for word in Mayor Wood's voice. According to email correspondence obtained through a public records request, the Republican mayor’s office apparently added one sign-off sentence and his signature to the corporate PR document, then sent it to federal regulators on the official letterhead of Roswell, Georgia.
Dec 30, 2014
Comcast and Time Warner Cable are once again at the bottom of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, ranking them as the companies whose customers are most disappointed with the quality of their products and services. The new rankings were reported in MarketWatch, which says that TWC's internet service was lowest on the list, followed by TWC's TV service, and then Comcast's internet service.Read Article >
That Comcast and TWC are at the bottom of the list should be of very little surprise. Comcast is so notoriously awful that it actually appointed someone to focus specifically on improving its interactions with customers, and both Comcast and TWC were actually already at the bottom of the ACSI for both cable TV and internet service earlier this year. As a reminder, these two companies are now attempting to merge.
Dec 22, 2014
The controversial Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger hinges on regulatory approval from the FCC and the Department of Justice, both of which are based in Washington, DC. It will come as no surprise that Comcast is trying to ingratiate itself to the DC elite by passing out cards with "priority assistance" codes to select staffers, journalists, and other influential citizens of the nation's capital, which can help expedite service for the select few who posses the cards.Read Article >
In an excellent report by Luke Mullins of the Washingtonian detailing how former Meet The Press moderator David Gregory lost his job, Mullins notes how Comcast is a much more hands-on corporate parent for NBC than GE ever was. Comcast executives show up to Washington events — something that GE executives rarely did — including the White House Correspondents' Dinner, where Comcast execs "mingled with lawmakers, Capitol Hill aides, and media muckety-mucks."
Oct 3, 2014
The Federal Communications Commission is extending the time you'll have to file a comment on whether you think that Comcast and Time Warner Cable should be allowed to merge. The reason behind the extension is that Comcast recently filed an enormous document containing new information with the commission. The commission actually refers to the thing as "voluminous," noting that it's nearly 850 pages long.Read Article >
The commission says that this new document contains information that is "critical to the review of the proposed transactions," and as such, more time is needed for the public to evaluate it. Unfortunately, you probably won't even be able to read the document right now because the FCC's filing system isn't really working.
Aug 4, 2014
Comcast's claim that LTE competes with cable modems is 'a little bit of a stretch,' says Verizon Wireless CEO
In a discussion with reporters today, Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead hedged Comcast's claims that LTE is a viable competitor to traditional landline cable modems. Anyone who uses both knows that it's a ridiculous argument — LTE service is usually slower, less consistent, and comes with deeply restrictive data caps — but Comcast has been leaning on it as a supposed example of why competition is healthy in the broadband internet market. The end goal for the cable giant is to convince regulators that there's enough competition in high-speed internet service that its pending acquisition of Time Warner Cable won't create a monopoly or have a serious impact on consumer choice.Read Article >
"They're trying to get deals approved, right, and I understand that... their focus is different than my focus right now, because I don't have any deals pending," Mead said, a reference to the fact that Comcast is looking for ways to justify the TWC buy. "LTE certainly can compete with broadband, but if you look at the physics and the engineering of it, we don't see LTE being as efficient as fiber coming into the home."
May 19, 2014
New York State will take a close look at Comcast's proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable, a deal that hangs on the approval of federal and state regulators, including those in New York, where TWC is based. Governor Andrew Cuomo said today that the state's Public Service Commission would be reviewing the purchase to see if it was in the interest of New York and those currently subscribing to TWC within the state. "The state is taking a hands-on review of this merger to ensure that New Yorkers benefit," Governor Cuomo says in a statement.Read Article >
Beyond reviewing how the merger might impact broader pricing and competition, the Governor's Office also specifically notes the commission's "thorough and detailed investigation" will be looking at protections around pricing for low-income consumers. "To determine whether the proposed transaction is in the public interest," commission chair Audrey Zibelman says in a statement, "the commission will examine the proposal to ensure services the merged company would provide will be better than the service customers currently receive."
May 15, 2014
Comcast says it could begin capping monthly data for all its customers within the next five years, a change that could potentially end up costing some heavy internet users additional fees. Speaking at a media summit in New York earlier today, Comcast executive David Cohen said that he expects the company to move entirely to a "usage-based billing model" in the next five years, while adding that most customers don't go over their monthly allotment.Read Article >
Apr 28, 2014
In preparation for its pending buyout of Time Warner Cable, Comcast has agreed to transfer a portion of its post-merger subscribers to Charter Communications. The deal, which was rumored last week and confirmed this morning, will see roughly 1.4 million Time Warner Cable subscribers sold to Charter, expanding its 4.4 million video customer base to around 5.7 million, according to a statement. This addition would make Charter the second-largest cable operator in the US, though the new Comcast's 30 million video subscribers would still put its numbers to shame. In addition to this straightforward sale, the companies will also be swapping and spinning off several million more customers. Comcast and Charter will trade 1.6 million subscribers in different markets, a decision that they say will let them operate more efficiently.Read Article >
In a more complicated move, the two companies will create a third entity to handle about 2.5 million more Comcast customers. The new group, called SpinCo, will be publicly traded, with a Charter holding company controlling 33 percent of it. The remaining 67 percent will be in the hands of Comcast shareholders, but Comcast itself will have no connection to the company, and SpinCo's actual operations will be managed by Charter. Exact terms of the overall deal haven't been disclosed, but Bloomberg previously reported that Charter would pay around $20 million for the customers and a stake in SpinCo.
Apr 21, 2014
Netflix has come out in opposition of Comcast's proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable, writing in a letter to shareholders that the merger would give the combined service provider "even more anticompetitive leverage" to charge businesses "arbitrary" fees before they can access customers. This view is, of course, no surprise: Netflix has already been pressured by Comcast into paying what it views as a net-neutrality violating fee in order to improve streaming service to its subscribers, and it's certainly fearful that it'll have to pay more of these down the road and that Comcast could even eventually come to directly compete on streaming with a service of its own.Read Article >
"If the Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger is approved, the combined company’s footprint will pass over 60 percent of US broadband households," Netflix writes, noting that this figure includes Comcast's proposed divestiture of equipment that would bring it down to serving just 30 percent of the US market after the deal closed. Netflix says that with the decline of DSL, "Comcast could control high-speed broadband to the majority of American homes."
Apr 18, 2014
Comcast and Time Warner Cable could offload between 3 million and 5 million customers to Charter Communications, according to a Financial Times report. Executives from all three companies have met in recent days and negotiations remain ongoing, the report says. Selling off a sizable chunk of customers could help better the odds of Comcast's TWC acquisition getting a thumbs up from federal regulators. The company has already said it's willing to sell 3 million subscribers to a competing cable provider if the historic buyout is approved. Comcast claims those assets and subscribers would be worth a total of $17 billion, a figure that would climb if the company winds up letting go of 5 million customers.Read Article >
If a deal can be worked out, it would be a decent consolation prize for Charter, the fourth-largest US cable company. Before Comcast announced its controversial proposal, Charter had put in its own bid for Time Warner Cable. At one point, Charter reportedly weighed selling several valuable markets to Comcast if it helped fund the deal. But Charter's offer was met with stiff resistance from TWC executives, and soon after the company found itself blindsided by Comcast. Charter felt betrayed by its more powerful competitor, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Apr 9, 2014
Comcast wants to own the internet — or, at least, the cables that carry it to most Americans’ homes. Yesterday, the company laid out its arguments for acquiring Time Warner Cable in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission. The merger, announced in February, would let Comcast take over markets that include, among other places, parts of New York, Texas, and Southern California. This would give Comcast a stranglehold on the US broadband market, but it’s not a sure thing yet. The Department of Justice and FCC must decide whether the merger poses a threat to competition for internet and cable services, and the Senate Judiciary Committee is questioning executives in a hearing today.Read Article >
Apr 8, 2014
Comcast and Time Warner Cable have taken a step towards the merger they announced in February. The companies have filed a request for review with the Federal Communications Commission, one of the agencies that will have to approve the $45 billion deal between America's two largest providers of wired broadband. In a 181-page document, the companies argued that Comcast's acquisition of TWC would give consumers network upgrades, better cable TV services, and expanded broadband access for low-income users. It's also seeking to allay fears that a merger would reduce competition in the already highly consolidated home broadband market.Read Article >
Many of the promised benefits apparently stem from Comcast expanding its existing services to cover TWC customers. Its video service Xfinity On Demand will come to TWC markets, as will Comcast's subsidized "Internet Essentials" program for low-income Americans; the companies will pool their resources for Wi-Fi hotspots, with Comcast offering TWC subscribers access to its far bigger network. While a court eviscerated the FCC's net neutrality rules in February, Comcast is still required to abide by them until 2018 as part of a previous agreement, and the merger will require TWC to do the same.
Mar 12, 2014
Apparently blind to rising consumer unrest around the deal, Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus acted as a cheerleader for the proposed merger between his company and Comcast during a speaking engagement today. "The combination truly is a dream combination," he said at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference. Last month, Comcast — the largest cable provider in the US — announced its intent to acquire second-place Time Warner Cable for $45 billion. If approved, the merger would allow Comcast to offer service (either cable or internet) to two-thirds of American households.Read Article >
Feb 13, 2014
After rumors broke late last night, Comcast announced this morning that it had reached an agreement to acquire rival Time Warner Cable in a deal worth around $45 billion. The news brings months of machinations to a close: Comcast ended up besting the efforts of the much smaller Charter Communications, which had been trying to advance its own hostile takeover of Time Warner as recently as yesterday.Read Article >
But with the prospect of a combined Comcast and Time Warner on the horizon, the question turns to what a merger would actually mean — both for consumers and the industry at large. If the move is approved by federal regulators, it could cement the kind of monolithic monopolies that have plagued cable subscribers all along, raising concerns over net neutrality and competition in the marketplace. Despite the very real potential for a media dystopia, however, there could be a silver lining: the chance that the deal could help break down a wall that’s kept innovation out of the living room for years.
Feb 13, 2014
Comcast has just made official the agreement rumored last night: it is acquiring Time Warner Cable in a multibillion-dollar deal. Officially presented as a merger between the two US cable giants, the agreement will see Comcast absorbing 100 percent of TWC in a $45.2 billion all-stock transaction. As a result, current Time Warner Cable shareholders will find themselves owning roughly 23 percent of Comcast's common stock.Read Article >
Monopoly concerns immediately rise to the fore with a merger of this scale, which Comcast will try to allay by making divestitures. It's acquiring TWC's 11 million managed subscribers, but says it's prepared to divest systems that serve roughly 3 million, netting it 8 million from the deal and an overall total of 30 million managed subscribers. The company says that will keep it below a 30 percent share of the US market.
Feb 13, 2014
The cable industry could be getting significantly smaller. According to CNBC reporter David Faber's sources, Comcast will announce that it is buying Time Warner Cable tomorrow morning. In a statement to The Verge, Time Warner Cable said it was not confirming any media reports at this time.Read Article >
Feb 11, 2014
Charter Communications' hostile takeover attempt of Time Warner Cable (TWC) is going into full swing today as it begins a campaign to fully replace TWC's board of directors with its own selections. Charter has nominated 13 candidates to be elected to TWC's board, which Reuters reports will be up for election again at a shareholder meeting that will likely be held in May. If Charter can install its own supporters on the board, it would effectively force TWC to begin discussions about a potential buyout — a deal that it's rebuked so far.Read Article >
"It is clear that Charter is nominating a slate of directors for the sole purpose of pressuring our board into accepting the same lowball offer that it previously considered and unanimously rejected," TWC CEO Rob Marcus says in a statement. TWC has shot down three Charter offers in the last seven months alone, all of which TWC has made clear were too low. "We are confident in our strategic plan ... and we are not going to let Charter steal the company."
Jan 31, 2014
Time Warner Cable has long had a rotten reputation, but now that the cable company is facing a takeover from rival Charter Communications, executives are promising that they're working to turn TWC around. A big part of that plan involves significantly upgrading its services in New York and Los Angeles under a new brand by the end of the year.Read Article >
Newly-minted CEO Robert Marcus added on the earnings call that Maxx means "more reliable, better quality video, all digital signals and better, newer HD set-top boxes." That includes continuing the rollout of a "cloud" TV guide that — finally — offers a faster, native 16:9 HD interface. And they're going to offer a new box with 1TB of storage and six different tuners.
Jan 27, 2014
Charter Communications is reportedly bolstering its aggressive plan to take over Time Warner Cable by bringing Comcast in as backup. According to Bloomberg, Charter and Comcast are close to striking a deal that would sell significant TWC assets to Comcast if Charter's buyout attempt goes through. The deal would both provide Charter with much-needed funding to finance the offer and remove Comcast — a cable provider bigger than both Charter and TWC — from the list of potential bidders. Removing Comcast as a potential buyer will also help Charter convince TWC's stockholders that they're unlikely to see a better bid than what it's offering.Read Article >
The deal would give TWC's New York City, New England, and North Carolina cable assets to Comcast if Charter's purchase of TWC goes through, reports Bloomberg. TWC is said to have around 3 million subscribers throughout those markets. But Charter's success in buying TWC is still far from certain. Its offer has been rebuffed by TWC three times now, with TWC's executives making it clear that they felt its offer — reportedly $132.50 per share (around $37.4 billion in cash and stock) — was too low. Charter has since begun appealing directly to TWC's shareholders in an attempt to have them begin pushing for the buyout on their own.
Jan 22, 2014
Last week, Charter Communications formally offered to pay $37.4 billion for Time Warner Cable. It was the third time Charter had placed a bid for TWC, and it was the third time in a row it was harshly rejected. Charter is the nation’s fourth largest cable company, while TWC is number two. Charter’s bid was for $132.40 a share, roughly what TWC is trading at today — not the $150-160 it has said it might accept. So why exactly does Charter think it can punch above its weight and take over a larger rival with a lowball bid? Two words: Darth Vader.Read Article >
The man widely seen as the force behind Charter's aggressive new stance is John Malone, a former titan of the cable industry who earned the nickname Darth Vader for his aggressive style during the 80s and 90s. Malone took a step back during the aughts, but has now returned with a vengeance. He acquired a big stake in Charter through an investment from his Liberty Media group. And he sees TWC as the vulnerable contender he can use as a stepping stone to reclaim his crown (or his black helmet, as the case may be).
Jan 13, 2014
After two failed attempts to buy and merge with Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications placed a third offer today and began appealing to its competitor's shareholders with an open letter. While Charter is pushing to make a merger happen, it doesn't expect it to happen through an immediate acceptance of this latest bid. The offer is an intentional lowball: just $132.50 per share, according to The Wall Street Journal, when TWC was reportedly looking for between $150 to $160. The offer — reportedly totaling $37.4 billion in cash and stock — only slightly exceeds TWC's closing price today too, of $132.40Read Article >
Charter argues that the offer is a fair one though, writing in a press release that TWC's share value has already been raised over interest in the deal. Rather than looking for a higher offer, Charter suggests that TWC look at the deal's long-term potential for shareholders when considering the bid. "I believe we have a significant opportunity to put our companies together in a way that will create maximum, long-term value for shareholders and employees of both companies," Charter CEO Thomas Rutledge writes in an open letter to TWC CEO Robert Marcus.
Dec 13, 2013
Charter Communications is preparing to make an official bid for Time Warner Cable. A new report from Bloomberg News claims that the fourth-largest US cable provider aims to acquire its larger competitor for less than $140 per share. That offer is above Time Warner Cable's current $132.60 stock value, but reportedly still falls below what TWC executives are looking for.Read Article >
The second-largest US cable operator would "probably" accept a bid between $150 and $160 a share, Bloomberg News' sources say, so Charter's rumored offer may not be enough to get the deal done. Comcast is reportedly sitting this one out for now, despite earlier rumors that it would team up with Charter to purchase and split Time Warner Cable's assets. Bloomberg notes that Comcast "is monitoring Charter's moves," however. Charter reportedly believes a successful buyout of Time Warner Cable would give it added leverage in future dealmaking discussions with television networks. But as TWC can attest after a lengthy battle with CBS, it's not always that simple.
Nov 22, 2013
Comcast may be interested in merging with Time Warner Cable. The two sides aren't in active discussions, according to CNBC, but Comcast is reportedly seeking advice on potential antitrust concerns and other regulatory obstacles that could pop up if the company decides to pursue a fellow cable provider. CNBC also says that if Time Warner Cable moves forward with a sale, Comcast would be its preferred buyer. According to "people familiar with the matter," Comcast has been considering merging with TWC for quite some time, but only now is looking for guidance on what hurdles the companies could face if a deal is reached.Read Article >
But Comcast may have some competition: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Charter Communications is also preparing to make an offer to buy the company. Regardless of who decides to make a grab for Time Warner Cable, any deal is likely to be met with stiff scrutiny from federal regulators. Comcast is familiar with how that can go, as the company was forced to make concessions to successfully complete its buyout of NBCUniversal.