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, 7:17 PM
- With the FCC's new net neutrality rules published in the Federal Register, AT&T (NYSE:T) and three industry trade groups representing cablecos and wireless carriers have filed separate lawsuits challenging the rules, which subject firms to heavier "telecom services" regulations.
- AT&T is the first large individual challenger, joined by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, wireless group CTIA and the smaller American Cable Association. The NCTA has hired former solicitor General Ted Olson, who argued Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court.
- Publication in the Federal Register means the rules take effect 60 days from yesterday -- which is why affected companies had their briefs warmed up.
- Represented/related companies: VZ, TMUS, S, CMCSA, CHTR, TWC, CVC, CTL, FTR, CCOI, DISH, DTV
Fri, Apr. 10, 9:07 PM
- While an administrative judge has recommended approval by California's Public Utilities Commission of Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) $45B acquisition of Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), the agency's commissioner Mike Florio has posted an "alternative proposed decision" signaling he'd deny the deal.
- Florio says emphatically that "no conditions could mitigate all of the negative impacts of the proposed transaction," including "reduced competition for wholesale inputs ... constraining consumer options for those competitive services."
- Previously: Wolff: Get ready for 'M&A mania' with media consolidation (Apr. 09 2015)
- Previously: Sling TV CEO: We oppose Comcast-TWC merger (Apr. 06 2015)
Thu, Apr. 9, 10:00 PM
- In a new report on fiber, DSL and cable broadband subscribers, Infonetics Research projects that consumers are driving global fixed broadband adoption toward a 5% compound annual growth rate through 2019, from a current base of 733M (up 8% last year).
- Global growth will lead the way, the firm says, especially in China (Asia Pacific has 50% of the world's fixed broadband subscribers, and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) is the worldwide share leader) -- as well as Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Arrgentina, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Other insights: DSL's still the biggest technology, but growth is coming via fiber-to-the-home and DOCSIS 3.0 cable; and FTTH subscribers grew 22% last year to cross the 100M-subscriber line.
- U.S.-traded players in the firm's report: T, BT, CHA, CHU, CHT, CMCSA, OTCQX:DTEGY, OTCPK:KDDIY, KT, NTT, ORAN, OTCQX:ROSYY, TI, TEF, OTCPK:TELNY, OTCPK:TLSNY, OTC:TMXLF, OTCPK:TLSYY, TWC, OTC:TRKNY, VZ, VIP, VOD
Thu, Apr. 9, 9:08 PM
- Don't let recent merger challenges and failures fool you, Michael Wolff argues: "M&A mania" is coming to a media conglomerate near you amid pressure for a new wave of consolidation.
- "Perhaps never before has consolidation been so much the flavor of the month, nor has it seemed so difficult to get a taste," he writes. "The table is set, but nobody's sitting down to eat."
- If Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) fails in its bid for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), he notes, it just means other cablers will step up to match Comcast's ambition, and Comcast will still look for a way to stay dominant.
- He points to a number of mergers he thinks are easily imaginable: Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA) and FOX? Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)? TWC and Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR)? Discovery (NASDAQ:DISCA) and, well, most anyone (Disney, Fox, CBS)?
- Factors encouraging the wave: Media's all about video now, and the pure-play aspect makes merger logic cleaner; distribution and content are separate and now even antagonistic businesses; the growth of over-the-top means not unbundling but re-bundling; and everyone needs scale for negotiation strength in content and ad deals.
- Other key players: John Malone (LMCA, LBTYA, STRZA); Verizon (NYSE:VZ); Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF); Scripps Networks (NYSE:SNI); Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX); DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) and AT&T (NYSE:T); Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH).
Mon, Apr. 6, 5:34 PM
- Another rite of spring arrives with baseball's Opening Day, and the L.A. Dodgers (who've made the playoffs each of the past two years and are favored again this year) are still off the air for most Southern California residents amid a Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) dispute.
- TWC paid the dodgers $8B to launch SportsNet LA, but hasn't reached agreement with any other provider to carry the channel, meaning 70% of locals are shut out of coverage unless they watch at the park in person.
- In particular, DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) is refusing to pay $4 per subscriber-month to air the games and there may be little progress toward a carriage deal until merger plans for TWC (with Comcast) and DirecTV (with AT&T) get resolved.
- Sources tell the Los Angeles Times that TWC is losing $100M on its channel in the standoff.
Mon, Apr. 6, 3:23 PM
- "We actually do oppose that merger -- we don't think it's good for consumers; we don't think it's good for the industry," says Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV (NASDAQ:DISH), about the proposed merger between Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC).
- Asked on Bloomberg TV whether Comcast ambitions amount to merely "scale" or monopoly, Lynch said "I think it's too much scale, it's unprecedented ... if that merger were completed, they would have over half of the truly high-speed broadband connections in the country, and past something 65% of the homes ... it's too much scale for one company."
- Sling TV -- whose strategy centers on a "skinny bundle" of mainly live programming served over the Internet -- had some troubles Saturday in a critical area, live sports, experiencing streaming problems serving up the NCAA Final Four for its viewers. The company apologized for problems it blamed on "extreme sign-ups and streaming."
- Comcast and Time Warner are awaiting progress at the FCC after the merger's "deal clock" was reset by the federal regulators.
- Previously: FCC pauses review of Comcast-TWC, AT&T-DTV; likely weeks away (Mar. 13 2015)
Thu, Apr. 2, 4:26 PM
- Over-the-top video services seems to have accelerating momentum as more unbundling happens every week, but high-yield pay-TV companies have little to worry about just yet, Moody's says in a new report.
- Customer inertia along with the limited competition they now face should buy providers time to adjust.
- "Evolutionary, not revolutionary" is how the firm describes the pay-TV shift, saying that OTT providers, including Sony and Apple, will take a small number of subscribers for now -- even though consumer perception seems to favor OTT options.
- The firm notes rising bills could force defections, but "the average customer may not realize how much content traditional pay TV service provides, from video on demand and across multiple devices."
- Pay TV stocks today: (CMCSA +1.5%), (TWC +1.9%), (CVC +0.9%), (CHTR -0.6%), (T +0.7%), (VZ +1.1%)
Tue, Mar. 31, 3:17 PM
- Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) is up 6.2% and has touched a record-high $199 in the wake of its deal to acquire Bright House Networks, which would make it the country's No. 2 cable operator (Charter is now No. 4; Bright House is No. 6).
- The deal's dependent on Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) successful pursuit of Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) -- Charter's own bid for TWC fell apart, and Charter could step back in if Comcast's plan falters -- and if Comcast takes such a clear lead, Charter may not stop at Bright House in trying to catch up.
- Mediacom, CableOne and Suddenlink could be the next targets. "I think it is inevitable most of the rest of the cable industry not owned by Comcast is sold to Charter," Pivotal Research Group analyst Jeff Wlodarczak tells Reuters.
- As for John Malone, his Liberty Broadband (NASDAQ:LBRDA) -- Charter's biggest shareholder -- has agreed to purchase $700M of shares in the Charter/Bright House combo, in transactions that would leave it with voting power of about 25%.
- Charter bonds picked up on the news as well.
Tue, Mar. 31, 9:05 AM
- Charter Communications (CHTR, up 5.2% premarket) has reached agreement to acquire Bright House Networks for $10.4B.
- The outlines of a deal were there, but it's early -- it was expected that a ruling would come down on Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) merger with Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) before Charter made a move.
- The structure: a partnership where Charter owns 73.7% and Advance/Newhouse owns 26.3%. Charter will pay $2B in cash.
- There's still several conditions to wrapping the deal, including Charter transactions with Comcast.
Tue, Mar. 17, 2:03 PM
- With the proposed merger of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) getting all the oxygen from the post-net-neutrality FCC, the $48.5B deal that AT&T (NYSE:T) has to acquire DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) appears to be getting a relatively free pass.
- Both deals will create a company controlling more than a quarter of pay TV -- so it may be Internet access that's drawing extra scrutiny. The combined Comcast-TWC company would serve high-speed Internet to almost 40% of Americans.
- Even FCC petitions opposing the deals are telling: 20 against Comcast-TWC, five against AT&T-DirecTV. And 88,000 brief comments opposing Comcast-TWC, 14,000 opposing AT&T-DirecTV.
- One critic of the T-DTV deal told Reuters that Justice Department reviewers responded in a meeting with "few questions" and "blank stares."
- Today: CMCSA -0.7%; TWC -1%; T +0.1%; DTV +0.2%.
- Previously: FCC pauses review of Comcast-TWC, AT&T-DTV; likely weeks away (Mar. 13 2015)
- Previously: Brean downgrades DirecTV to Hold; AT&T offer priced in (Feb. 23 2015)
Tue, Mar. 17, 10:03 AM
Fri, Mar. 13, 4:28 PM
- As signaled before, the FCC has paused the 180-day "shot clock" on reviewing two megamergers -- Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) deal for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), and AT&T's (NYSE:T) deal to buy DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- as it's tied up with another case over programming contracts.
- The review of the deals was set to expire by the end of March, but now may take somewhat longer, likely several more weeks.
- The cause is the ongoing dispute with programming firms -- Disney (NYSE:DIS), CBS, Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), Viacom (VIA, VIAB) and others -- over whether third parties commenting on the mergers will get access to private documents containing sensitive pricing and strategy information.
- The FCC has argued it has sufficient protections to keep those details from getting out. But the merger reviews now appear to be dependent entirely on that case's timetable.
- "In reaching this conclusion, the commission reserves the right to restart the clock as it believes will best serve the public interest," the FCC said.
Wed, Mar. 11, 8:34 PM
- Digitalsmiths -- the data research company owned by TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) -- has a white paper out suggesting that 1.5M Americans plan to cut the cord and ditch their pay television service, while another 38.1M are dissatisfied -- two-thirds of those because of the cost.
- The report -- based on its sample of more than 3,000 subscribers -- says 8.9% switched pay-TV providers in the prior three months, up 2.1% Y/Y.
- Another interesting number: 78.7% of respondents watch 10 channels or fewer -- which has to make future cord-cutters wonder what they're really paying for.
- While the report is largely bad news for pay TV, parent company TiVo is marketing devices both for cord-cutters and for its pay-TV partners. And 20.4% of survey takers recently upped the level of their pay service. (hat tip: FierceCable)
- Pay TV stocks today: CMCSA -1.1%; TWC -0.5%; CVC -1%; CHTR +0.7%; T -0.5%; VZ +0.4%.
Mon, Mar. 9, 6:41 PM
- Making the rounds after Apple's Watch event, HBO (TWX +1.3%) CEO Richard Plepler says he talked to Apple's (AAPL +0.4%) senior VP Eddy Cue last spring about a "shared vision" for the TV service -- though HBO's programming partners are scrambling a bit to sort out a response this month.
- On the thorny issue of HBO's cable/satellite partners who may object: "We are talking to all of our partners," Plepler says, adding HBO thought "it would be a great vehicle for them."
- While Apple has a three-month exclusive for its devices, program providers could get into that window via their existing relationship with HBO. Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) and Cox Communications were known to be in discussions with HBO already about providing the service. Cox is mum so far on how/if it will make HBO Now available to broadband-only customers.
- Apple makes a pretty good partner for a content company that has no experience with direct customer service; meanwhile, Apple has a massive payments infrastructure and 400M credit cards already set up. NPD analyst John Buffone tells Tom's Guide that Apple TV is No. 1 in their last streaming device report, ahead of Roku, Chromecast and Fire TV. It's used by 25M.
- No exclusive window comes without money changing hands; while financial terms are undisclosed, it's possible there's a middle ground between the 30% cut that Apple takes in apps and the 50-50 split HBO has with some existing program partners. HBO thinks the addressable market is 10M broadband-only subscribers, meaning a landscape of $150M/month to split more or less evenly.
- Related programmers: CMCSA, TWC, T
Fri, Feb. 27, 6:37 PM
- Fresh off their vote for re-regulation of Internet transmissions, the five FCC commissioners will be spending mid-March on Capitol Hill answering to the GOP Congress.
- The House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding its hearing March 19, a day after the members are scheduled with the Senate Commerce Committee.
- The chairmen of the two committees, Greg Walden and John Thune, are backing a bill that would reverse the FCC's Title II reclassification (treating Internet providers more like utilities) and substantively narrow its approach to ensuring net neutrality.
- Following the 3-2 vote, major carriers indicated their strategy would be twofold: Lawsuits (CMCSA, T, VZ, CHTR worried about "years" of litigation); and legislative action to undo the move, with a cooperative congress apparently ready to act.
- Other related stocks: CVC, TWC, CTL, FTR, ELNK, DISH, DTV, CCOI
TWC vs. ETF Alternatives
Time Warner Cable Inc provides video, high-speed data and voice services. The Company also offers security and home management services, networking and transport services and enterprise-class, cloud-enabled hosting, managed applications and services.
Other News & PR