Attempted purchase of Time Warner Cable by Comcast
On February 13, 2014, Comcast Corporation announced its intent to acquire Time Warner Cable. The deal was proposed to take the form of a stock swap, estimated at the time of announcement to be worth about $45.2 billion. The two companies argued that the merger would increase their overall scale, allowing the company to become more competitive, improve customer service quality, and quicken innovation. The companies also argued that the deal would increase competition in the United States' cable television and internet markets, as they planned to divest subscribers to Charter Communications to regulate the market share of their combined operation.
The deal was supported primarily by Comcast, along with groups that were affiliated with Comcast or received financial support from Comcast or the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. It was also found that some letters in support of the merger were ghostwritten by Comcast representatives. The merger was widely opposed by various individuals, groups, and corporations, arguing that it would reduce competition through consolidation of the cable industry, lead to higher costs of service, and give Comcast greater leverage in how it distributes content owned by its NBCUniversal division to competitors, such as over-the-top services.
Citing the reduction of competition in the broadband and cable industries that would result from the merger, the Department of Justice planned to file an antitrust lawsuit against Comcast and Time Warner Cable in an effort to block it. On April 24, 2015, Comcast announced that it would withdraw its proposal to acquire TWC. Afterward, TWC would enter into an agreement to be acquired by Charter Communications.
On November 22, 2013, it was widely reported that Comcast was seeking advice on a possible bid for Time Warner Cable. Charter Communications was also thinking of making an offer. Charter made a total of three attempts to buy Time Warner Cable, offering $37.4 billion on January 13, 2014. Comcast's $45.2 billion offer effectively won Comcast the bidding war, though Charter continued to challenge the acquisition by forecasting difficulties with the regulatory review process. By April 27, however, Charter had backed off its opposition to the deal after reaching a deal to acquire a portion of Time Warner Cable's subscribers as part of it.
Under the deal, Comcast would acquire Time Warner Cable by exchanging each of Time Warner Cable's current 284.9 million shares for 2.875 shares of Comcast's CMCSA stock. In addition, Comcast would divest 1.4 million Time Warner Cable subscribers to Charter Communications for about $7.3 billion, and divest 2.5 million subscribers to a new public company which would be owned 66% by Comcast shareholders, and 33% by Charter, which would manage its network and customers. Finally, Comcast and Charter would swap about 1.6 million subscribers with each other. The proposed merger was approved by Comcast shareholders on October 8, 2014 and Time Warner Cable shareholders the next day.
Comcast touted that the merger would create a "world class media and technology company"; Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts explained that the companies would be able to innovate quicker, and remain competitive with newer entrants into the industry, such as Verizon and Google Fiber. Similarly, TWC CEO Robert D. Marcus stated that the merger would "[create] a company that delivers maximum value for our shareholders, enormous opportunities for our employees and a superior experience for our customers."
Details by topic
Comcast and Time Warner Cable did not directly compete for customers; there was no physical overlap in the respective service areas where they offer services. More generally, there is almost no physical overlap in the service areas of any of the US cable providers. Unlike countries where local-loop unbundling allows multiple companies to offer competing service over the same physical lines, current policy in the United States allows incumbent companies to maintain exclusive use of the telecommunications infrastructure that they own.
In advocating for their 2011 purchase of NBC Universal, Comcast did identify Time Warner Cable as a competitor and cited the nature of their competition as an argument for regulatory approval of that purchase.
At the end of 2013, Comcast and Time Warner Cable had about 20.7 million and 11.1 million internet subscribers, respectively. Together, the two companies would have controlled about two-thirds of the broadband cable market, or about 40% of the U.S. wired broadband market as a whole. Comcast noted that the combined companies' share of all U.S. broadband internet, both wired and wireless was 21.5%. However, because wireless internet is generally slower, more expensive, and has much lower data caps, the wireless comparison remains controversial.
In 2010, Comcast won a lawsuit with the FCC which struck down the agency's net neutrality rules on jurisdictional grounds. As a condition of its acquisition of NBC Universal in 2011, Comcast agreed to abide by the same Open Internet rules that it argued be struck down. Because these rules would be extended to Time Warner Cable customers in the event of a merger, Comcast argued the acquisition would be a benefit for consumers. On the other hand, critics noted that the provision expires in January 2018, and questioned Comcast's record of abiding by legal mandates.
As of March 31, 2014, Comcast and Time Warner Cable had 22.6 million and 11.2 million video subscribers, respectively. Together, the two companies served about 33% of paid TV customers in the US.
After the announcement of the merger, Comcast considered selling off about 3 million subscribers. This divestiture would bring Comcast's share of US TV subscribers just below 30%, a threshold that was formerly used by the FCC as a strict limit on the TV market share for one company, before Comcast successfully sued to have the rule overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in August 2009. Comcast reached a deal with Charter Communications in April 2014 to sell Charter both 1.4 million customers and a 33% stake in a company of an additional 2.5 million subscribers.
Time Warner Cable has few media properties, most of which are local news channels such as NY1, and regional sports networks such as Time Warner Cable SportsNet and SportsNet LA. Comcast owns several similar services through NBCUniversal, including New England Cable News and Comcast SportsNet, which serve different markets from TWC's news and sports channels. Both companies also own minority stakes in SportsNet New York and MLB Network.
Time Warner Cable should not be confused with Time Warner Inc. (now known as WarnerMedia), which owns Warner Bros. Entertainment (including Warner Bros. Television and a 50% stake in The CW), pay TV networks such as HBO and Cinemax, several other national cable channels such as TruTV, CNN and Cartoon Network and other properties which compete with Comcast's NBCUniversal division, but which spun off Time Warner Cable as a completely separate company in March 2009, Time Warner Inc. also spun off AOL in December 2009.
After initially scheduling the hearing for March 25, the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the deal was held on April 9, 2014. The House Judiciary Committee also held a hearing concerning the acquisition on May 8, 2014. The congressional hearings have no direct effect on the outcome of the review process.
Federal Communications Commission
The FCC's review of the acquisition began on April 8, 2014, when Comcast filed their public interest statement. The FCC review was headed by chairman of the FCC and former cable industry lobbyistTom Wheeler. Wheeler's appointment in May 2013 was widely praised by the cable industry. Some raised concerns about Wheeler's previous work as the head of the main U.S. cable lobby, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Comcast donated $110,000, and Time Warner paid $22,000 for a fundraiser benefitting Mignon Clyburn, an FCC officer.
The FCC timed its review of the merger with a 180-day "shot clock", a non-binding estimate of how long it would take to come to a decision regarding the merger. The clock began on July 10, 2014, when the FCC set a deadline for comments on the merger. From October 3, 2014 to October 29, 2014, the FCC paused the clock at day 85, waiting for Comcast to submit additional information regarding their business practices. From December 22, 2014 to January 12, 2015, the FCC paused the clock at day 105, to give it time to review documents which Time Warner Cable had submitted late. On March 13, 2015 the FCC paused the clock again, waiting for court decisions regarding the public disclosure of information about companies' retransmission consent contracts.
Department of Justice
The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice officially announced that it would be reviewing the merger on March 6, 2014. Concurrent with the announcement, the current head of the antitrust at the DOJ, Bill Baer, recused himself from the review. Baer previously represented General Electric during their sale of NBCUniversal to Comcast. With Baer recused, the DOJ review was led by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata B. Hesse and Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Gelfand. A group of about 25 states, through their state attorneys general, are conducting their own probes, either individually or through a multistate review group.
The DOJ commonly uses the Herfindahl index (HHI) to measure market concentration, designating markets between 1,500 points and 2,500 points as "moderately concentrated" and those above 2,500 points as "highly concentrated". By some rough estimates, the merger would have increased the HHI of the US television industry from 1,815 to 2,454, or an increase in 639 points. The merger would have increased the national wired broadband HHI from roughly 1,455 to 2,130. However, the DOJ traditionally considers the effects of transactions on concentration in individual markets, in which Comcast and Time Warner do not compete, and ignores transactions' effects on the national market as a whole.
Positions on the merger
Comcast and its affiliates were among the strongest supporters of the deal. Comcast vice-president David Cohen stated that the deal was "all about increasing competition and creating more consumer benefit as a result of gaining additional scale." Carl Guardino, CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents Comcast among other companies, said that "there seems to be nothing but upside in this deal".
A coalition of libertarian groups, including Americans for Tax Reform, supported the merger in a letter calling on the FCC and DOJ to "allow the free market to function...without interference". Many of the groups which publicly supported the merger received political or charitable donations from Comcast or the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, leading some to doubt the impartiality of the statements of support. An investigation by The Verge found that some letters of support from state and local level officials were originally written by Comcast employees and forwarded to the FCC with only superficial changes.
The merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable was widely opposed due to concerns over its impact on the overall market. It was argued that the sheer size of the combined company would reduce competition, would give Comcast an unprecedented level of control over the United States' internet and television industries. It was also argued that the merger would give Comcast increased leverage in the distribution of NBCUniversal content, hamper over-the-top services such as Netflix, and lead to higher prices for its services.
Prominent critics of the deal included technology expert Susan P. Crawford, U.S. senator Al Franken of Minnesota, the city of Lexington, Kentucky, the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, and U.S. representative John Conyers of Michigan. Some companies within the industry expressed opposition to the merger, including DirecTV,Netflix, and Cogent Communications. Prior to reaching a deal to acquire some subscribers of the merged company, Charter Communications also opposed the merger.
Public opinion on the merger was generally negative. A March 2014 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 52% of Americans believed the deal was bad for consumers, while 22% thought it would be beneficial. An April 2014 poll conducted by Consumer Reports found that the merger was opposed by 56% of the public and supported by 11%, with 32% having no opinion, with 74% of respondents agreeing that a merger "will result in higher Internet and cable prices for everyone." Comcast vice president David Cohen has pointed to faults in the company's customer service as the reason behind much of the opposition from the general public, arguing such concerns are not relevant to the government's review of the deal.
A coalition of 56 consumer-advocacy and public interest groups expressed opposition to the merger, including both the Writers Guild of America, East and Writers Guild of America, West, the Media Alliance, Public Knowledge, and the Parents Television Council. Outside of this group, Consumer Watchdog also opposed the merger.
In April 2015, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Justice was preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Comcast and Time Warner Cable in a bid to halt the merger, arguing that the merger would reduce the level of competition in the cable television and broadband internet industries. On April 24, 2015, Comcast officially announced that it had called off the merger.
Following the abandonment of the deal, it was reported that a TWC financial advisor had been in talks with representatives from Cox Communications regarding a merger; however, a Cox representative denied that they were exploring a sale, and that the company would "continue to explore any potential growth opportunities that align with our business objectives." On May 26, 2015, Charter Communications announced a $78.7 billion deal to acquire TWC, along with a $10.1 billion deal to acquire Bright House Networks.
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Cox CEO on AT&T-Time Warner merger: 'I don’t think you have to get bigger to compete'
The pending AT&T-Time Warner deal isn't necessarily the model other media and telecom companies need to follow to stay relevant, said Cox Communications CEO Patrick Esser.
"I don't think you have to get bigger to compete," Esser said on CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Tuesday. "I think we have to invest."
Cox Communications has invested about $15 billion in improvements and innovation over the last decade, and will invest another $10 billion over the next five years, said Esser. The company is working on creating more content libraries and next-generation technologies — like a voice controlled remote — to attract customers.
"Video is in full disruption," he said. "Our customers have more choices today than they ever had before."
As for the legality of the AT&T Time Warner deal, Esser said his only concern is to ensure Cox Communications will have access to content, given DirecTV's history of making things exclusive.
"Other than that, I'll let the court's figure that one out," he said.
- Additional reporting by Julia Boorstin
Column: Spectrum, like other big companies, seeks to abandon its merger promises
Back in 2016, the giant cable company Charter Communications made several promises required by federal regulators as conditions for the approval of a merger deal that would make Charter even more gargantuan.
Are you shocked that, now that the merger has long been completed, Charter is asking the Federal Communications Commission to rescind some of those conditions? Me neither.
Especially given that the result of any such FCC action would be to allow Charter, which operates its cable and broadband systems under the Spectrum brand, to raise prices on many of its internet users. (Full disclosure: The Times partners with Spectrum on a regular local TV news show.)
Why would any rational business take the time to get permission to do something they don’t intend to do?
Matt Wood, Free Press
In approving Charter’s $88-billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the FCC forbade Charter to place data caps on its customers for seven years — that is, charge customers more if their internet use exceeds certain levels — or until mid-2023.
The commission also forbade Charter from charging streaming video providers such as Netflix for interconnections to its system during the same period.
In a petition it filed with the FCC on June 17, Charter is asking to drop those conditions as of May 2021, or two years early. The cable company cites an escape clause in an appendix to the FCC order, allowing it to ask permission to shorten the time frame to five years. The FCC set the initial public comment period on the petition to expire Tuesday, though its schedule has come under fire as too hasty.
There’s nothing new about companies that have made costly concessions to get what they want from regulators subsequently trying to renege on their promises down the line. I’ve reported on a couple of these cases just within the last few weeks.
T-Mobile last month petitioned the California Public Utilities Commission to overturn several conditions imposed on the PUC’s approval of its merger with Sprint.
The big Northern California hospital chain Sutter Health also sought to delay court review of its 2019 antitrust settlement with California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra. (A state judge rejected that request.)
Both companies cited the COVID-19 pandemic as justification for their requests, but it’s a fair bet that if the pandemic hadn’t occurred, they would have looked for another excuse.
Consumer advocates are generally critical of data caps, especially for customers of fixed-broadband service, which doesn’t face the same bandwidth constraints as wireless communications, where they’re common.
Data caps raise the prospect of higher prices with the expansion of “bandwidth-intensive activities, such as streaming TV shows and movies,” as Consumers Union put it in 2015.
They’ve also proliferated as mergers have reduced broadband options for the average consumer. Further, COVID-19 lockdowns have increased household dependence on broadband usage, as more customers spend longer hours at home, using the internet not only for entertainment but work.
Charter’s petition has a couple of curious aspects. One is that it swears that it actually has no current plans to impose data caps on customers and has “no plan to do so” in the future, according to spokesman Justin Venech.
“I’d be skeptical,” says Matt Wood, general counsel of the consumer advocacy group Free Press. “Why would any rational business take the time to get permission to do something they don’t intend to do?”
Another aspect is that Charter says, in a public statement about its request, that it merely “seeks a level playing field so that we can continue to grow and provide superior service to our customers across the country.” Such major competitors as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, you see, impose data caps or data allowances at various levels of usage.
Sure, if Charter can’t pursue a business model that its competitors can pursue, that’s not a level playing field. But it’s important to remember that this is a playing field that Charter graded itself — by agreeing to these conditions in order to get its merger approved.
Charter’s petition asserts that the streaming video business and its customers, which the merger conditions were purportedly imposed to protect, is “flourishing” — nay, exploding — despite the ability of big broadband providers to stifle subscribers’ data use.
Instead, Charter says, “video consumers reign supreme, demonstrating seemingly insatiable interest in video options.” Of course, viewer interest in video content would probably be mushrooming with or without data caps, so the relevance of this assertion is hard to fathom.
Charter’s bedrock claim is that the streaming video market, which accounts for the vast bulk of internet data use, has become “almost unrecognizable compared to what existed in 2016.” Therefore, the restrictions are outdated.
If that were true, it wouldn’t say much for the business modeling staff of Charter Communications, which turned a profit of $3.5 billion on revenue of $29 billion in 2016, so presumably could have sprung for some seasoned prognosticators. (In 2019, the company earned $1.7 billion on $45.8 billion in revenue.)
But the notion that streaming video was going to grow strongly year by year could not have been much of a secret. It was part of the rationale for the Charter-Time Warner Cable merger itself. Charter is one of the few internet service providers that has focused entirely on broadband service, rather than jumping whole hog into entertainment content as Comcast did by acquiring NBC Universal and AT&T did by acquiring WarnerMedia.
The data caps imposed by some Charter competitors have been defended as so loose that the vast majority of customers won’t reach them. Comcast, for instance, raised its cap to 1 terabyte per month from 300 gigabytes in 2016; above that level, extra fees apply. A gigabyte is a little more than one billion bytes, and a terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes.
AT&T estimates that to reach 1 terabyte, a user would have to send and receive 11,000 emails, watch 142 hours of standard streaming video, 129 hours of hi-def video and 94 hours of super-hi-def 4k video, spend 345 hours in online gaming and upload 2,000 social media posts with photos, all in a single month.
Yet, “that’s an argument with an expiration date on it,” says Wood. “Ten years ago, people would have been saying, ‘Why would anybody need 25 megabits per second’” as an internet speed?
If there’s one truism that crosses all technological boundaries, indeed, it’s that the speed, capacity and usage of technological resources will grow. Today’s computers make yesterday’s look pathetic, and some of today’s smartphones even make computers look pathetic.
The imponderable in these usage estimates is video — as 4k streaming amounts to a larger share of video consumption, data use will grow commensurately — never mind the probability that even more data-heavy video technologies will eventually appear.
Broadband usage already has exceeded levels that internet firms thought were unreachable just a few years ago. In 2017, for example, Cox Cable said that only 2% of its users were reaching the 1-terabyte level. Last month, it placed the figure at 10%.
“The state of the art evolves very quickly in this field,” Wood adds. If the companies didn’t expect customers to hit 1-terabyte usage levels, “why would they set the cap there?”
Nevertheless, the smart money says that Charter’s petition to be relieved of its prior commitments will sail through the Republican-dominated FCC. The die was cast at the time of the original approval, which occurred under a Democratic-controlled commission.
GOP commissioner Ajit Pai voted against the approval because he objected to the conditions. The approval order “isn’t about competition, competition, competition; it’s about regulation, regulation, regulation,” a spokesman for Pai said at the time. “It’s about the government micromanaging the internet economy.” GOP Commissioner Michael O’Rielly voted in favor of the merger, but dissented from the conditions.
Both are still on the FCC — Pai having been elevated to chairman by President Trump. The chances that they’ll look kindly on Charter’s request are good.
Already the FCC has been accused of greasing the path for Charter’s request. That charge came, interestingly, from the conservative news organization Newsmax Media.
Newsmax, which would have a business interest in blocking data caps by internet service providers carrying its content, says the commission issued a notice setting the comment period for the request two months too early, based on the terms of the original merger approval. The FCC’s rush for comment creates “the appearance of undue favoritism” toward Charter, Newsmax argues.
That’s especially true given the prospects that the FCC might again come under Democratic control early next year, an eventuality that could complicate Charter’s request.
Regardless of Charter’s rationale for seeking to wriggle out from under the conditions, one counter-principle should be paramount: When a company makes promises to get a huge break from government regulators, it should be held to them. Period.
Time Warner Cable
Former American cable telecommunications company
Time Warner Cable (TWC), also simply known as Time Warner, was an American cable television company. Before it was acquired by Charter Communications on May 18, 2016, it was ranked the second largest cable company in the United States by revenue behind only Comcast, operating in 29 states. Its corporate headquarters were located in the Time Warner Center in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, with other corporate offices in Stamford, Connecticut; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Herndon, Virginia.
It was controlled by Warner Communications, then by Time Warner. That company spun off the cable operations in March 2009 as part of a larger restructuring. From 2009 to 2016, Time Warner Cable was an entirely independent company, continuing to use the Time Warner name under license from its former parent company (including the "Road Runner" name for its Internet service, now Spectrum Internet).
In 2014, the company was the subject of a proposed purchase by Comcast Corporation, valued at $45.2 billion; however, following opposition to the deal by various groups, along with plans by the U.S. government to try to block the merger, Comcast called off the deal in April 2015. On May 26, 2015, Charter Communications announced that it would acquire Time Warner Cable for $78.7 billion, along with Bright House Networks in a separate $10.1 billion deal, pending regulatory approval.
The purchase was completed on May 18, 2016; Charter had continued to do business as Time Warner Cable in its former markets, but has now re-branded these operations under the Spectrum brand in most markets (a brand of Charter which launched in 2014), though it will continue to use the roadrunner.com email addresses and adelphia.net email addresses to new customers.
Time Warner Cable traces back to two cable entities owned by Time Inc. & Warner Communications respectively in the 1970s; American Television and Communications, which was established in 1968, and would be acquired by Time in 1973; and Warner Cable, established in 1973.
Warner Cable would eventually diversify into channels with the formation of Warner Cable Communications in 1977, creating test channels such as Pinwheel, Star Channel, and even Slight on Sound; these would eventually be officially launched as Nickelodeon & The Movie Channel in 1979, and MTV in 1981 respectively. In 1979, American Express was brought in to form a joint-venture cable network and cable television firm called Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, and eventually Warner Cable was renamed to Warner-Amex Cable. WAC would eventually create the QUBE interactive service until it was shut down in 1984.
In 1984, American Express sold its half ownership of Warner-Amex Cable back to Warner Communications; reverting the name to Warner Cable. Warner Cable's channels would be spun off into a public-traded corporation known as MTV Networks Inc.; which was eventually purchased by Viacom International a year after.
In the late 1980s, Warner Communications, which was in financial trouble at the time, planned to merge with Time Inc; which would lead to ATC becoming a sibling to Warner Cable.
Time Warner Cable
In 1990, after a hostile takeover bid from Paramount Communications was rejected; Warner Communications officially merged with Time Inc. to create Time-Warner; ATC & Warner Cable would eventually become part of a new division known as Time Warner Cable Group, and Warner Cable would be renamed to Time-Warner Cable. ATC would eventually be renamed to Time Warner Communications around the same time as well.
Time Warner Cable Group would eventually be merged with Time-Warner Cable & Time Warner Communications into a single division of Time Warner.
In 1995, the company launched the Southern Tier On-Line Community in Elmira, New York, a cable modem service later known as Road Runner High Speed Online. That year, talks began that would later result in Warner's acquisition of Paragon Cable. Glenn Britt (1949–2014) was the CEO from 2001 until December 2013.
Time Warner retained Time Warner Cable as a subsidiary until March 2009, when it was spun out as an independent company. Prior to the spin-out, Time Warner had held an 84% stake in Time Warner Cable. Non-TW shareholders received 0.083670 shares for each share already owned. This move made Time Warner Cable the largest cable operator in the United States owned solely by a single class of shareholders (without supervoting stock).
Time Warner Cable launched DVR service in the Houston area in 2004. (TWC's Houston-area cable systems are now owned by Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal.) When first launched, it used Scientific-Atlanta set-top boxes with DVR.
In June 2009, Time Warner Cable unveiled a concept known as "TV Everywhere"—a means of allowing multi-platform access to live and on-demand content from television channels that is tied to a user's television subscription.
Sale to Charter Communications and company closure
Main article: Attempted purchase of Time Warner Cable by Comcast
It was first reported in October 2013 that Time Warner Cable was exploring a sale of the company, possibly to Charter Communications. However, on November 22, 2013, reports surfaced that Comcast expressed interest in acquiring Time Warner Cable. Both companies were said to be placing bids for the company. Charter reiterated its interest in purchasing Time Warner Cable and increased its bid on January 14, 2014. On February 12, 2014, it was reported that Comcast had reached a deal to acquire TWC in an overall deal valued at $45.2 billion, pending regulatory approval.
The proposed merger was met with prominent opposition from various groups, showing concerns that the sheer size of the combined company would reduce competition and would give Comcast an unprecedented level of control over the United States' internet and television industries, increased leverage in the distribution of NBCUniversal content, hamper over-the-top services, and lead to higher prices for its services. In April 2015, it was reported that the U.S. Department of Justice was preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against the companies in a bid to halt the merger, primarily because the merged company would have controlled 57 percent of the nation's broadband capacity. On April 24, 2015, Comcast officially announced that it had called off the merger.
On May 25, 2015, Bloomberg News reported that Charter was "near" a deal to acquire TWC for $195 a share. Charter had been involved in the Comcast/TWC merger, as the companies planned to divest around 4 million subscribers to Charter in order to reduce the combined company's market share to an acceptable level. The next day, Charter officially announced its intent to acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal valued at $78.7 billion, and confirmed that it would also continue with its proposed, $10.1 billion acquisition of Bright House Networks. The deal was subject to regulatory approval, although due to the relatively smaller size of the companies and their media holdings, the deal was expected to face less resistance than the Comcast/TWC merger.
The acquisition was completed on May 18, 2016. In 2017, Charter stopped using the TWC and BHN branding and fully integrate the two services' subscribers into the Spectrum brand, which was originally debuted in 2014 to market Charter's services.
As of second quarter 2009, there were 14.6 million basic cable subscribers, 8.8 million Digital cable subscribers, 8.7 million Road Runner residential subscribers, 2.5 million DVR subscribers, and 4.5 million residential Digital Phone subscribers, which makes it the fifth-largest landline phone provider in the United States.
As of 2013, Time Warner Cable's business division had the second largest business-facing enterprise by revenue (of cable providers who offer business services), with $1.7 billion in revenue as of the third quarter of 2013. Total revenue for 2012 was $1.9 billion.
Cable Internet service
Main article: Spectrum Internet
Prior to Time Warner Cable merging with Charter Communications, they offered a total of 5 tiers of internet speeds, which are listed below:
- ELP (Everyday Low Price, $14.99) - Up to 2MB/s (would have to request to get, not actively offered/advertised)
- Standard - Up to 10MB/s
- Turbo - Up to 20MB/s
- Extreme - Up to 30MB/s
- Ultra - Up to 50MB/s
Prior Time Warner Cable internet charges/fees:
Time Warner Cable charged a modem lease fee what was $10/month and offered free WiFi with their service if requested in lieu of what Spectrum does today, what is giving the modem for free and charging $5/month for WiFi service. For Time Warner Cable, customers could purchase their own modem to alleviate that charge, along with today, Spectrum allows their customers to purchase their own router to alleviate the WiFi charge.
Spectrum Center, formerly Time Warner Cable Arena, is located in Charlotte, North Carolina, the home of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets. In April 2008, the then-Bobcats reached a naming rights deal with Time Warner Cable, the Charlotte area's major cable television provider; the arena was named for the cable provider in exchange for the release of the team's television rights, which had been on the TWC co-owned Carolinas Sports Entertainment Television for its first season, which failed to find much cable coverage in the Charlotte market outside of Time Warner Cable systems and went dark after a year, and then News 14 Carolina which was limited to only the North Carolina side of the market, until the arena naming rights deal was made. The team moved to the new Fox Sports South sub-feed Fox Sports Carolinas and SportSouth (now Fox Sports Southeast) with the 2008-09 season, allowing coverage through both the Carolinas. Shortly after being acquired by Charter, the arena was renamed to Spectrum Center.
On March 9, 2007, Time Warner Cable, which provided service to the northeastern Wisconsin area, signed a 10-year naming rights deal for the home field of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a minor league baseball team and affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, based in Grand Chute, a suburb of Appleton. The team and Time Warner Cable mutually agreed to end the rights deal after the 2013 season, and the venue is now known as Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium, named for a local neurology practice.
On July 31, 2006, Time Warner Cable and Comcast completed a deal to purchase practically all of Adelphia's assets for $17 billion. Time Warner Cable gained 3.3 million of Adelphia's subscribers, a 29 percent increase, while Comcast gained almost 1.7 million subscribers. Adelphia stockholders received 16% of Time Warner Cable. Time Warner Cable went public effective February 13, 2007, and the company began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on March 1, 2007.
In addition to Adelphia's coverage being divided up, Time Warner Cable and Comcast also agreed to exchange some of their own subscribers in order to consolidate key regions. An example of this is the Los Angeles market, which was mostly covered by Comcast and Adelphia (and some areas of the region already served by TWC), is now under Time Warner Cable. Philadelphia had been split between Time Warner Cable and Comcast, with the majority of cable subscribers belonging to Comcast. Time Warner Cable subscribers in Philadelphia were swapped with Comcast in early 2007. Similarly, the Houston area, which was under Time Warner, was swapped to Comcast, while the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex was changed to Time Warner Cable (RR). In the Twin Cities, Minneapolis was Time Warner Cable and Saint Paul was Comcast. That whole market is now Comcast.
Time Warner Cable purchased NaviSite (NAVI), a company providing cloud and hosting services, on February 1, 2011 for $230 million, roughly equating to $5.50 per share.
On August 13, 2011, Time Warner Cable announced its purchase of Insight Communications for $3 billion acquiring Insight's 760,000 subscribers nationwide. The merger was completed February 29, 2012, and as of June 2013 all of Insight Communications was absorbed into Time Warner Cable.
On October 7, 2013, Time Warner Cable announced that it has agreed to acquire DukeNet Communications LLC for $600 million. DukeNet provides data and high-capacity bandwidth services to wireless carrier, data center, government, and enterprise customers in the Southeast.
Advance/Newhouse and Time Warner Entertainment (Bright House Networks spin off)
Some of the regional cable system clusters operated by Time Warner Cable were owned by the Time Warner Entertainment – Advance/Newhouse Partnership (TWEAN). In 2002, Advance/Newhouse Communications, unhappy with some of the operating policies of Time Warner Cable in the AOL Time Warner era, forced a restructuring of the TWEAN partnership such that Advance/Newhouse would actively manage and operate a portion of the jointly owned cable systems equal to their percentage of equity. Under this arrangement, Advance/Newhouse enjoys the proceeds of their actively managed systems rather than simply a percentage of the partnership's total earnings. The majority of the affected systems were in the Indianapolis, Tampa and Orlando markets under the Bright House Networks brand.
The transactions proposed by Charter were approved, TWC and Bright House Networks have been absorbed into Charter.
In Beaumont, Texas, during 2008, Time Warner Cable began testing tier-based metered data plans that effectively placed customers into a pricing hierarchy based on the amount of data that they used. In 2009, Time Warner Cable announced that additional cities including Rochester, New York will become additional test sites. In particular in Rochester groups have formed to stop TWC. Several groups including Stop TWC and Stop The Cap are currently working to oppose these efforts. On April 7, 2009, then US Congressman Eric Massa called on TWC to eliminate its broadband Internet cap.
Signal intrusion and accidental transmission of pornography
On March 16, 2010, Time Warner Cable's transmission of their Kids on Demand and Kids Pre-School on Demand channels on systems in eastern North Carolina was interrupted by programming from the adult pay television channel Playboy TV for approximately two hours between 6:15 a.m. and 8:15 a.m./EDT, in which a group of nude women talked and posed in a sexually suggestive manner. This accidental display affected Time Warner Cable's digital cable subscribers in four towns in the system's eastern North Carolina cluster, while other areas displayed a black screen. A Time Warner Cable spokesperson said in a statement to RaleighCBS affiliate WRAL, "It was a technical malfunction that caused the wrong previews to be shown on our kids' on-demand channels. Unfortunately, it hit at the worst possible time on the worst possible channels." A Time Warner Cable executive said normal monitoring procedures did not take effect because the glitch affected only a few areas.
- West Coast cluster
- Midwest cluster
- Kansas – Kansas City, Overland Park, Olathe, Shawnee
- Missouri – Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit
- Ohio – Akron, Bowling Green/North Baltimore, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Findlay/Lima, and Youngstown
- Kentucky – Lexington, Louisville, Northern Kentucky, Ashland
- Pennsylvania – Erie County, Sharon, Franklin
- Wisconsin – Green Bay and Milwaukee
- Northeast cluster
- The Carolinas cluster
- New York cluster
- Texas cluster
- Texas – Arlington, Austin, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fredericksburg, Harlingen, Killeen/Temple, Laredo, Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, Waco, and Wichita Falls
- Systems not part of a cluster
- Alabama – Dothan, Enterprise
- Arizona – Yuma
- California – El Centro
- Colorado – Gunnison, Telluride
- Idaho – Coeur d’Alene, Moscow
- Indiana – Terre Haute
- Maryland – Crisfield
- Virginia – Accomac, Chincoteague, Franklin, Richlands, Virginia Beach
- Washington - Kennewick, Pullman, Yakima
- West Virginia – Clarksburg
Time Warner Cable's divisions, from official website:
- PAC West Region
- Oceanic Time Warner Cable (Hawaii)
- Time Warner Cable Desert Cities
- Time Warner Cable San Diego
- Time Warner Cable Southern California (SoCal)
- Midwest Region
- Time Warner Cable Kansas City
- Time Warner Cable Nebraska
- Time Warner Cable Northeast Ohio & Western Pennsylvania (Akron, Canton, Cleveland & Youngstown; Erie County & Sharon, PA)
- Time Warner Cable Mid-Ohio (Columbus)
- Time Warner Cable Southwest Ohio (Dayton; Cincinnati; Lexington, KY; Louisville, KY; Terre Haute, IN; Clarksburg, WV)
- Time Warner Cable Wisconsin (Milwaukee & Green Bay)
- Texas Region
- Time Warner Cable National (non-clustered systems)
- Northeast Region
- Time Warner Cable Albany
- Time Warner Cable Buffalo
- Time Warner Cable Rochester
- Time Warner Cable Central New York / Syracuse
- Time Warner Cable New England
- Time Warner Cable New York City
- Carolinas Region
- Time Warner Cable Charlotte
- Time Warner Cable Greensboro
- Time Warner Cable Eastern Carolina
- Time Warner Cable Raleigh
- Time Warner Cable South Carolina (Columbia)
- Time Warner Cable Fayetteville/Sandhills
Sold to Comcast
- Time Warner Cable Houma
- Time Warner Cable Houston
- Time Warner Cable Lake City/Live Oak
- Time Warner Cable Mid-South (Memphis, TN, AR, and MS)
- Time Warner Cable Minnesota
- Time Warner Cable Shreveport
- Time Warner Cable St. Augustine/Palatka
- Time Warner Cable Cape Coral/Naples
Divisions that became Bright House Networks
- Time Warner Cable Central Florida
- Time Warner Cable Tampa Bay
- Time Warner Cable Bakersfield
- Time Warner Cable Birmingham
- Time Warner Cable Indianapolis
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) ranked Time Warner Cable as one of the least liked companies in terms of customer satisfaction in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
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Articles related to Time Warner Cable
Cox time merger warner
Cable giants in talks for yet another high profile merger
The upcoming season for cable TV could see yet another merger.
Charter Communications — the nationwide cable giant whose properties include Spectrum, formerly Time Warner Cable — is weighing a fresh plan to acquire Atlanta-based Cox Communications, three sources told The Post.
Charter Chief Executive Tom Rutledge is eyeing family-owned Cox despite the fact that the latter has repeatedly rejected overtures from larger rivals, industry insiders say.
“Tom wants to buy Cox,” said one highly placed cable source. Another confirmed the news, but stressed there have been no formal approaches.
“If they’re going to sell it to anyone, they’re going to sell it to an old cable guy,” one industry source said.
Rutledge is a former chief operating officer at Cablevision, which was acquired for $17.7 billion from the Dolan family last year by French-based Altice NV, which has also acquired Suddenlink.
Cox, the third-largest cable company in the US with 6.2 million customers, has long said it isn’t for sale.
“Cox has been very clear and consistent that we are not for sale and, in fact, we’re aggressively investing in our network, products and strategic partnerships and investments of our own,” Cox spokesman Todd Smith told The Post on Wednesday. Charter declined to comment.
Still, insiders say Charter may have reason to believe a change of heart is afoot.
In April, Cox Enterprises, the corporate parent of Cox Communications, named Alex Taylor, the great-grandson of the founder James Cox, as the company’s next CEO. He will take over on Jan. 1.
Cox was once public but returned to private ownership in 2004.
Charter, who major shareholder and media mogul John Malone has described as his “horizontal acquisition machine,” scooped up Time Warner Cable and BrightHouse, for a total of $67.1 billion. The deals were finalized in May 2016.
Malone’s Liberty Interactive also bought Alaska-based cable system GCI for $1.1 billion in April. Liberty will in all likelihood flip GCI, which has just 100,000 customers, to Charter at some point, cable watchers predict.
What’s more, Charter won’t be the only suitor should Cox decide it wants a dance partner. Other possible acquirers include Altice, Comcast and Verizon, sources say.
Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications deny report of merger talks
Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications denied a Wall Street Journal report on Monday that Time Warner Cable had approached Cox Communications to discuss a potential merger.
Cox Communications "did not show interest" in the discussions, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
"It's simply not true. We have not engaged in any discussions with Cox," Time Warner Cable's spokeswoman Susan Leepson told Reuters.
Read MoreComcast-TWC deal's collapse leaves customers out in the cold
Comcast abandoned its $45 billion offer for Time Warner Cable on Friday, after U.S. regulators raised concerns that the deal would give Comcast an unfair advantage in the cable TV and Internet-based services market.
A spokesperson for Cox Communications also said that the company was definitely not for sale.
(Disclosure: Comcast is the parent of NBCUniversal and CNBC.)
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