Fri, Apr. 24, 9:15 AM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is trading up 1.3% premarket, and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) is 0.8% higher as well, after confirmation that their $45B merger deal is dead.
- In statements by the Justice Dept. and FCC thanking each other for their cooperation, it's clear that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was against the deal, which would have made agency approval a very long shot.
- It's also clear why Wheeler was opposed: It's about broadband, not cable, and protecting the burgeoning streaming video market. "The proposed merger would have posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation especially given the growing importance of high-speed broadband to online video and innovative new services."
- While Comcast doesn't pay a breakup fee with the deal's end, that doesn't mean everyone walks away cheaply: Advisers including bankers and lawyers will lose out on $380M in fees, chiefly Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), banker for Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR). J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) will drop from second to third in the league tables. As a mitigating factor, more deals are likely on the way, though.
- Other sector players premarket: AT&T -0.3%; Verizon -0.2%.
Fri, Apr. 24, 8:34 AM
- After a late Thursday board meeting, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has confirmed it's dropping its $45B plan to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) -- a stunning reversal of a 15-month plan, which got less stunning as hurdles began to mount in recent weeks.
- "Today, we move on," says Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. "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." It's a cheap walk-away for Comcast, which had no breakup fee in the deal.
- What next? Consolidation is still likely in a deeply uncompetitive industry. Other companies are now officially front and center in pursuit of TWC, notably John Malone's Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), which could re-launch its own failed effort. CHTR-TWC would have 16.5M broadband subscribers together, less than Comcast's 22M.
- Charter's deal with Comcast aimed at divestment and easing the Comcast-TWC transaction also blows up. What about Charter's deal to acquire Bright House?
- As for Comcast, it could take its stored-up momentum outside of cable -- to someone like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), as BTIG's Rich Greenfield hints? Or to a telecom like T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS)?
- Updated: Time Warner Cable statement. "We have always believed that Time Warner Cable is a one-of-a-kind asset," says Chairman and CEO Robert D. Marcus. "We are strong and getting stronger."
Thu, Apr. 23, 8:54 PM
- Vin Diesel let the news slip at CinemaCon in Las Vegas: Furious 8 will get made and hit theaters April 14, 2017.
- The Universal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) film series might've been considered finished after the 2013 death of star Paul Walker in an auto crash, but at more than $3B in total worldwide gross for the seven., it's a key asset for the studio and parent Comcast.
- In other blockbuster news for the media giant, it also scheduled its sequels to Fifty Shades of Grey, which has made more than $568M worldwide. Fifty Shades Darker will be out Feb. 10, 2017, and Fifty Shades Freed will roll out Feb. 9, 2018. The first film's Valentine's Day placement kicked off a banner year so far for Universal; the studio must figure: Why mess with success?
- Diesel putting a date on a new Furious is confirmation -- but it may not be too shocking that another film would come at some point: Deep into this run of sequels, Furious 7 is the most successful of the films, crossing $1.15B in worldwide grosses and becoming the seventh-highest grossing film (nominal terms) of all time.
- Previously: Universal Pictures crosses global $1B mark in record time (Apr. 08 2015)
Thu, Apr. 23, 5:21 PM
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) says that Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) -- one of a group of program providers that claim Verizon's new slim cable packages violate their contracts -- is refusing to carry Verizon's ads for the new packages.
- NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) joined Disney this week in saying that Verizon's plan to let subscribers choose smaller, cheaper bundles violated their carriage agreements. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said firmly that the company wouldn't retract the product.
- Fox and NBC haven't pulled the ads so far. Disney owns the ABC Network as well as the ESPN networks.
- The new Verizon plans, designed to offer more variety than large one-size-fits-all bundles, start at $55/month for a smaller channel lineup. They're available on Verizon's FiOS service, which has 5.7M TV subscribers.
- Previously: Disney: Not so fast on skinny bundling, Verizon (Apr. 17 2015)
Thu, Apr. 23, 3:09 PM
- Bloomberg reports Comcast (CMCSA +2.2%) plans to drop its hotly-contested efforts to merge with Time Warner Cable (TWC +0.7%), and could make an announcement as soon as tomorrow. Comcast has moved higher in response.
- The report comes a day after the WSJ reported the FCC staff recommends a hearing on the deal, and a week after Bloomberg reported DOJ antitrust lawyers are leaning against it.
- Charter (CHTR +0.4%), which has suggested it's interested in TWC if the Comcast deal falls through, has moved slightly higher.
Wed, Apr. 22, 9:19 PM
- A key setback for Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) $45B takeover of Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) as FCC staff has recommended that the agency designate a hearing -- what some regulatory experts call a "deal-killer," The Wall Street Journal reports.
- A "hearing designation order" would put the merger in the hands of an administrative law judge, and while Comcast would be able to keep making its case, it would be a strong sign the FCC doesn't see the merger to be in the public interest.
- Earlier, Comcast execs sat down with the Dept. of Justice and the FCC in hopes of salvaging a deal that is running into significant hurdles at the government level.
- Previously: Comcast-TWC deal moves to Capitol Hill in day of talks (Apr. 22 2015)
Wed, Apr. 22, 7:15 PM
- "There are essentially three options: OK the deal, negotiate a consent decree to impose conditions, or sue to block the deal. The first is not in play," says media lawyer Andrew Jay Schwartzman to CNN about the now somewhat shaky $45B Comcast-Time Warner Cable (CMCSA, TWC) merger deal, following a marathon day where Comcast executives sat down with the Justice Department and then the FCC.
- Comcast issued a statement saying it's not appropriate to share the content of the meetings.
- With no breakup fee, there's less disincentive for Comcast to up and walk away from the deal, which has been more than a year in the making. But that would depend heavily on whether the government sues to block the deal, or just seeks concessions to make it happen.
- Comcast's new sweetener is promising to expand its low-income "Internet Essentials" program that offers $10/month broadband to qualified households. Another statement from the company came today to "set the record straight" on the program, saying that critics are recycling old claims. (This must include articles like this one, referring to IE as Comcast's merger "trump card" and proclaiming it "bullcrap.")
- Critics say that while Comcast claims it's "one of the most successful, if not the most successful, private sector initiatives to close the digital divide ever," the company has signed up just 13.4% of 2.6M eligible households.
- Previously: Reuters: FCC staff sets Wednesday briefing on Comcast-TWC (Apr. 21 2015)
Wed, Apr. 22, 3:24 AM
- More grumbling is being heard over Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) new skinny TV packages, which launched on Sunday starting at $55/month.
- NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) now join ESPN (NYSE:DIS) in saying the company's new offering violates their contract agreements.
- "We have launched the product, we are not retracting it, and we believe we are in our legal rights to launch it," Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said in an interview.
- Previously: Disney: Not so fast on skinny bundling, Verizon (Apr. 17 2015)
- Previously: Verizon steps closer to custom TV packages (Apr. 17 2015)
Tue, Apr. 21, 7:17 PM
- FCC officials tomorrow will brief staff about the proposed $45B merger of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), Reuters is reporting -- though with no news about which way officials are thinking.
- The briefing may be light on specifics but might offer some clues to how the FCC will deal with recent public opposition to the buyout. The FCC's ruling on the deal will focus on public interest, while the Department of Justice focuses on antitrust concerns.
- The staff will also be briefed tomorrow on AT&T's (NYSE:T) $48B deal to buy DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), according to Reuters.
- Previously: WSJ: Comcast, Time Warner Cable to meet with Justice Dept. (Apr. 18 2015)
- Previously: Comcast defends TWC deal, announces 2-Gbps California plan (Apr. 17 2015)
Tue, Apr. 21, 4:18 PM
- Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and the Weather Channel have agreed to a multi-year renewal of their carriage deal that notably includes streaming rights, both live and on-demand, for Sling TV.
- The Weather Channel -- part owned by NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) -- has been at the center of a number of carriage disputes in the past few years, including a split from Verizon's FiOS in March and a few months off from DirecTV last year.
- The launch on Sling TV will happen by July; no work yet on where it fits into that service's package offerings or prices.
Mon, Apr. 20, 1:07 PM
- With its main competition coming from a security guard on a Segway, fast-driving Furious 7 (NASDAQ:CMCSA) led the box office for a third straight weekend with a healthy $29M, to close in on $300M domestically.
- The Universal film outdrew the critically panned Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (NYSE:SNE), which clocked in with a surprisingly strong $24M. The film earned a fairly rare 0% on critic aggregator Rottentomatoes.com but is now projected to profit, considering its $30M budget.
- As presaged by its fast start, Furious 7 blew past the $1B mark in global box office a few days ago.
- Universal grabbed another win with Unfriended, an ultra-cheap ($1M budget) teen-bullying horror that earned $16M, good enough for third place over the $10.3M earned by animated feature Home (DWA +1.5%). In its fourth weekend, Home (the best bit of news for DreamWorks in some time) has tallied $142.6M.
- On the other side of the spectrum, Child 44 (NYSE:LGF) -- which was banned in Russia -- debuted with just $600K in 510 theaters, a terrible trajectory for a film that cost $50M to make.
Sat, Apr. 18, 10:55 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) will meet Wednesday with the Justice Department in hopes of negotiating concessions to assuage the department's reported opposition to their $45B merger, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
- It's the first time the companies would meet with any regulators -- and the deal is nearing its endgame with both Justice and the FCC.
- Bloomberg reported Friday that staff attorneys at Justice were leaning toward blocking the deal, though any final word would come from senior officials there.
- The Justice Department's concern is antitrust issues in the combination of two giant service providers; the FCC is evaluating the deal to see whether it is in the public interest.
Fri, Apr. 17, 7:06 PM
- As reports spread that Justice Dept. attorneys were likely to recommend blocking Comcast's (CMCSA -2.1%) $45B buyout of Time Warner Cable (TWC -5.4%), the cable companies both argued there was no basis to block the deal.
- It'll mean "faster broadband speeds, access to a superior video experience, and more competition in business services resulting in billions of dollars of cost savings," according to a Comcast statement. "These benefits have been essentially unchallenged in the record."
- Meanwhile, over at the FCC, 37 groups opposed to the deal wrote Tom Wheeler, the agency's chairman, saying that even conditional application of net neutrality regulation wouldn't soften their opposition. Signatories included Dish, Consumers Union, the Writers Guild of America, West, and Free Press; "they don't make any new arguments," Comcast responds.
- Some volume came into competitive stocks and gave them a (relative) lift after the news: Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) came off lows to finish down 1.9%; Cablevision Systems (NYSE:CVC) rebounded to finish just -0.3%.
- In February, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield laid out why he thought the deal would ultimately get rejected.
- Then shortly after the Justice Dept. news broke, Comcast noted it was bringing its top-speed 2-Gbps Gigabit Pro service to the California Bay Area. The company previously said it would launch the service in Atlanta (where Google Fiber and AT&T plan 1-Gbps service); it's setting June for the California launch, but still no word on possible pricing.
Fri, Apr. 17, 4:22 PM
- Just in time for critical upfronts, advertising spending on TV rose in the first quarter, Standard Media Index reports, offering some optimism for networks in a challenging season.
- Excluding last year's Winter Olympics impact, spending was up 7% for broadcast networks, and up 4% for cable networks.
- For broadcast, January and February showed nominal declines because of comparison with the year-ago Olympics, and revenues were flat in March. Meanwhile, TV ratings were down 11% in Q1.
- The news is good but tempered by the expectation that this year's upfronts (all-at-once negotiations over the upcoming TV season) will show ad commitments falling 10% for broadcast and 5% for cable.
- Key network owners: AMCX, DIS, CBS, FOX, CMCSA
Fri, Apr. 17, 2:09 PM
- The Justice Department's staff attorneys looking into Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) $45B bid to purchase Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) are close to urging the deal be blocked, Bloomberg reports -- and they're also not working with Comcast to secure changes that would satisfy them.
- Already lower with the market today, TWC took a cliff dive, now -7%. Comcast shares are still down 2.8%.
- The lawyers could submit their review as soon as next week to deputy assistant AG Renata Hesse. Officials will then decide on whether to sue to stop the deal.
- Hesse is running the review since antitrust chief Bill Baer recused himself, as a previous representative of NBCUniversal in its takeover by Comcast.
Tue, Apr. 14, 11:22 PM
- Comcast Business (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has amped up its relationship with the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, signing an agreement to consolidate upgrades for data, voice and video at Philips Arena from a variety of competing vendors.
- The upgrades include PRI trunks over fiber and TV service as well as a dedicated 100-Mbps ethernet connection -- much of which will go to supporting arena visitors.
- “In the business of professional sports, it is absolutely a given now that fans attending games, and the media covering them, expect fast, reliable service," says Comcast's Cleve Lewis.
- Comcast's busines unit has a number of pro sports deals and recently signed with the Atlanta Braves for technology at the team's new 60-acre complex.
- Previously: Comcast in another sports-venue deal, wiring up new Atlanta ballpark (Mar. 17 2015)
CMCSA vs. ETF Alternatives
Other News & PR