Question: Comcast/Time Warner Cable Merger

#1
Comcast and Time Warner Cable are merging. I recently saw a panel discussion on Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO which said the companies were the two worst-rated service providers for customer service and featured some pretty shocking statistics on how the number of media companies in the US had shrunk drastically over the past decade.

What do you think about the merger? Is it good or bad for the market? What does it do for competition?
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#3
The reality is that they don't really compete in much of anything. They don't have overlapping service areas. It isn't like Dish and DirecTV, where they are available in most, if not all, the same areas. It is simply changing the name on your cable invoice. The real competition is between legacy cable (Comcast, TWC, Cox, Bright House, Wide Open West, etc.) the telecoms (AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS, CenturyLink Prism, etc.) and Direct Broadcast Satellite (Dish and DirecTV). The Comcast TWC merger won't change much except in production. The internet has the real possibility of changing the production environment (i.e. WWE Network, The Blaze, RT, etc.).
 

Cadus

DTVUSA Member
#4
It can probably only be good that they're merging. So that they stop doing poorly individually, maybe coming together will help? Otherwise they'll fail together, like they would have if they had stayed apart individually. I think the market has enough competition already, so reducing the overall quantity of companies won't do too much for changing the overall market.
 
#5
Board meeting at the new Comcast/TWC conglomerate headquarters:

"Please people, let's put our heads together to find more ways to screw the customer. Let's make double sure none of our customers receive better service than the worst service available before the merger! And now that we can combine inventories, we can wait another 18 months before upgrading any of our cable modems!! Oh by the way, one company only needs half as many lobbiests in Washington as two!!! Competition? Hahahahahahahahahahahaha..."

Rick
 
#6
All your points are salient. I completely agree that the overall market is so 'merged' already that this merger is hardly going to make a difference to the media business landscape, although it's still part of a troubling tendency towards anti-competitive practices. And it's certainly better that two dysfunctional companies are merging rather than a terrible one ruining a decent company by association. But the board meeting spoof from Rickdeemus really hits home about what the incentives behind this merger really are, and how little they take note of the needs of the customer.
 

bunny22

DTVUSA Member
#7
I think that the merger is bad news for anyone who likes TV. Even if the two don't compete directly in geographic areas now, having a bigger company will give them more power to push consumers and other companies around. They'll push their "TV everywhere" ideas (where you need to subscribe to cable to access streaming content) and further deteriorate net neutrality (which if you don't know what this is, you should look it up! That's an entire conversation unto itself.)

Short term, the "good" shows will be harder to watch and prices for the consumer will rise.

Long term, I hope that they just annoy everyone so much that they go out of business! Or at least push everyone else to find better alternatives, so the "good" shows are available through other places.
 
#8
They'll push their "TV everywhere" ideas (where you need to subscribe to cable to access streaming content) and further deteriorate net neutrality (which if you don't know what this is, you should look it up! That's an entire conversation unto itself.)
...and a conversation worth having here! So am I right in thinking this is where you have to enter your cable subscription info to watch an internet feed or video on the website of a TV network, thus making online access to programs part of your subscription package? Seems this is happening more and more. I don't remember having to log in to see network video content until a few months ago.
 

FWAmie

DTVUSA Member
#9
I actually think that even though they haven't been doing good individually they might just make it working together. Then again, that actually depends on wither they can actually communicate with one another or if they are going to be non communicative. If they are non communicative they will most likely fail.
 

bunny22

DTVUSA Member
#10
...and a conversation worth having here! So am I right in thinking this is where you have to enter your cable subscription info to watch an internet feed or video on the website of a TV network, thus making online access to programs part of your subscription package? Seems this is happening more and more. I don't remember having to log in to see network video content until a few months ago.
Yeah, that's what "TV Everywhere" is (and I think I've seen other names for it too, from different companies, that's just the only one I remember offhand). They started it several years ago, but you're right that it's been increasing. It started with the Olympics and other sports, then some cable channels like TBS on their own websites, now even Hulu has it for a bunch of shows (even if you're a paying Hulu Plus member, you have to wait an extra week or month to see a lot of shows). And it's stupid, because the main reason people use streaming is because they don't want or can't get cable for some reason. And people who stream would be more likely to just pirate things that aren't available or wait until it is.

"Net Neutrality" (which I also mentioned) is what I meant was a long conversation. But the gist is that net neutrality means that your internet costs the same and is the same speed regardless of what content you're viewing. It's the way the internet has always worked, but due to technicalities in laws written by idiots who didn't understand technology, it may not be enforceable. So if they aren't stopped, a merged Comcast/TWC could, for example, have their internet service make Netflix and other competitors so slow it's impossible to watch, or charge you extra, or charge Netflix to reach you (which means Netflix would then cost you extra) while NBC (owned by Comcast) or HBO (which makes the cable companies a lot of money) would work fine.
 
#11
Thank you for that excellent summary of both business trends! I agree that 'TV Everywhere' is a pretty short-sighted move on the part of TV companies since free streaming of programming the day or week after broadcast might be a good way to hook users back into buying cable by giving them a taste for certain programs and yet putting limits and delays on people watching them when they don't have cable. Plus any blocking or paywall obstruction of streaming programming will inevitably merely rally the public to piracy and the use of illegal streams, perhaps even giving them the justification they need to make the switch. The issue of 'Net Neutrality' is fascinating, especially as you represent it here, though it's very dispiriting to think of internet content being perverted from its principles of neutrality to corporate affiliation. I heard the head of a market research website on Sunday's 60 Minutes call the internet 'a medium of advertising', a definition I want to fight and know conflicts with what it stands for, but am finding difficult to deny these days. Anyone want to say anything more about 'Net Neutrality'?
 
#12
I heard the head of a market research website on Sunday's 60 Minutes call the internet 'a medium of advertising', a definition I want to fight and know conflicts with what it stands for,
Who gets to decide what it stands for? Some nerd (like me) at a computer with lots of idealistic claptrap, or the people who actually pay for it (the porn sites). :evil: Only half kidding.

bunny22 said:
a merged Comcast/TWC could, for example, have their internet service make Netflix and other competitors so slow it's impossible to watch, or charge you extra, or charge Netflix to reach you
The irony is, if they took the effort that will be required to implement this, and focused on improving bandwidth, I bet download speeds could double for everyone in a year's time. Instead, the hardware and manpower required to watch individual's megabyte usage will cause thousands of little bottlenecks, and slow everything down for everyone.

Same thing goes for the computer industry in general. If we could have made real progress for the end user, the most profitable goal, there'd be no need for these constant, mindless upgrades, all browsers would be 100% hack proof on the internet, and computers would work twice as fast, on average -- and ten times as fast for lots of backward duffers.

But progress in computer making is only tangentially motivated by the end user. Primary motivation has become selling NEW computers (which means making the old ones obsolete) and once again, internet advertising.

The free market is amazing. There's no force on earth great enough to defeat it -- not individual governments, not even the United Nations. (They can muck it up, like rat droppings in a Happy Meal, but they can't defeat it.) Half the world's population would starve in a month without the free market. But it's damned frustrating at times! :icon_beat:

Rick
 
#13
Who gets to decide what it stands for? Some nerd (like me) at a computer with lots of idealistic claptrap, or the people who actually pay for it (the porn sites). :evil: Only half kidding.



The irony is, if they took the effort that will be required to implement this, and focused on improving bandwidth, I bet download speeds could double for everyone in a year's time. Instead, the hardware and manpower required to watch individual's megabyte usage will cause thousands of little bottlenecks, and slow everything down for everyone.

Same thing goes for the computer industry in general. If we could have made real progress for the end user, the most profitable goal, there'd be no need for these constant, mindless upgrades, all browsers would be 100% hack proof on the internet, and computers would work twice as fast, on average -- and ten times as fast for lots of backward duffers.

But progress in computer making is only tangentially motivated by the end user. Primary motivation has become selling NEW computers (which means making the old ones obsolete) and once again, internet advertising.

The free market is amazing. There's no force on earth great enough to defeat it -- not individual governments, not even the United Nations. (They can muck it up, like rat droppings in a Happy Meal, but they can't defeat it.) Half the world's population would starve in a month without the free market. But it's damned frustrating at times! :icon_beat:

Rick
I think users (or 'use' in general) should define what a medium is, as it will always (eventually) develop towards what its users need and want - think about how much more quickly TV could have developed technologically if viewers really wanted it to. But 'medium of advertising' seems to me to be an attempt to re-define or, more accurately, spin the meaning of the internet to the majority of its users to justify the actions of marketeers. Those who believe in a 'free market' have actually been some of the severest critics of the Comcast/TWC merger on the basis that it, and preceding mergers of this kind, closes off the freedom to compete. It seems to alienate some of the staunchest believers in capitalism (John McCain, for example) and critics of unregulated market practices alike!
 
#14
I think users (or 'use' in general) should define what a medium is, as it will always (eventually) develop towards what its users need and want
It should and it could, if only the users knew as much about what's coming down as the big companies. Rev, the entire virus scare is a scam created by big companies to give them an excuse to scan our hard drives at will. Every time you do an upgrade of any program they can look at your activity and your hard drive and either store it for later retrieval, or upload it to the internet right there on the spot. Furthermore, there's no way you can ever know for sure when they do this.

There's no reason browsers couldn't have made your data invisible on the internet right from the inception of Windows. Remember when there was no world wide web, and people shared programs by passing around diskettes? Even then, there were these big scare stories about viruses in all the computer magazines. There was no medium for viruses to proliferate! But big companies were on the ball that early, setting the stage for all the countless, mindless upgrades we just love to pieces today. We live in the age of upgrade madness.

Of course, now we know that Microsloth deliberately puts in back doors every time you do an upgrade, to simplify complying with Fisa court orders. Hackers have found the back doors, Microsoft has been asked about it, and won't deny it. In fact, they tacitly admit it. "We only look at user data under a court order ... blah, blah, blah."

I was a voice crying in the wilderness about this for years. Now the hacker community is aware, which means it'll take another 5 years before most users are aware. If we could have an educated consumer, the free market might have half a chance!

Rick
 
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#15
I have never had either provider but I do not that I hate the fact that all of these cable companies are merging. When they do this it doesn't give the consumers much room to bargain shop. Where I live there is only one provider and that is Brighthouse. They have really crappy service but we don't have any choice but to utilize their services. I am not for this merger at all just knowing what it will mean for the customers they will limit to one provider.
 
#16
What this merger trend reminds me of is the American media oligopolies of old - the 'big five' studios, the 3-network system - because at the rate that the number of media/entertainment companies in the US are shrinking, we'll be down to a handful of conglomerates controlling TV again soon. I'm not sure I agree necessarily that oligopoly restricts creativity (look what was achieved in the studio era of Hollywood cinema!) but a fragmented marketplace is sometimes good for shaking up television, since without competition there's no demand for experimentation or difference - that's what got us Twin Peaks and The Simpsons. But mainly I think it's tiresome as these oligopolies always break up eventually and are replaced by independents who grow and grow until they become conglomerates themselves. It's such a boring, predictable cycle to watch happen.
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#17
It's not a done deal yet, but chances are it will go through.

The FCC is easily bought these days - you may remember the NBC / Comcast merger. Those of you who don't pay for TV and tried to watch the 2014 Winter Olympics online know how well that merger turned out for consumers...
 
#18
It should and it could, if only the users knew as much about what's coming down as the big companies. Rev, the entire virus scare is a scam created by big companies to give them an excuse to scan our hard drives at will. Every time you do an upgrade of any program they can look at your activity and your hard drive and either store it for later retrieval, or upload it to the internet right there on the spot. Furthermore, there's no way you can ever know for sure when they do this.

There's no reason browsers couldn't have made your data invisible on the internet right from the inception of Windows. Remember when there was no world wide web, and people shared programs by passing around diskettes? Even then, there were these big scare stories about viruses in all the computer magazines. There was no medium for viruses to proliferate! But big companies were on the ball that early, setting the stage for all the countless, mindless upgrades we just love to pieces today. We live in the age of upgrade madness.

Of course, now we know that Microsloth deliberately puts in back doors every time you do an upgrade, to simplify complying with Fisa court orders. Hackers have found the back doors, Microsoft has been asked about it, and won't deny it. In fact, they tacitly admit it. "We only look at user data under a court order ... blah, blah, blah."

I was a voice crying in the wilderness about this for years. Now the hacker community is aware, which means it'll take another 5 years before most users are aware. If we could have an educated consumer, the free market might have half a chance!

Rick
Thanks for these thoughts. I've been mulling them over for a few days. I think what is particularly alarming is how the internet is potentially such an active-use information medium and yet its users seem more and more passive and ill-informed about what it is. TV was always represented as having a passive audience (not that I agree with this at all) and yet TV viewers seem to know a lot more about how television works than internet users know about the inner-workings of the web. If my comments seem idealistic, it's because they come from a Marxist position (that of Raymond Williams on technological determinism to be specific) which is idealistic by nature!
 
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