Paul Sweeting

Comcast’s Bid for Time Warner Cable Gets Bundled Away


In his statement on Comcast’s decision to drop its $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable, Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler made it clear his agency was concerned about the merger’s potential impact on the development of the over-the-top video market:

Today, an online video market is emerging that offers new business models and greater consumer choice. 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.

So, too, was the U.S. Justice Department, according to a separate statement by Attorney General Eric Holder:

 This is a victory not only for the Department of Justice, but also for providers of content and streaming services who work to bring innovative products to consumers across America and around the world.

nbc-comcastIt was certainly a victory for content owners and providers, many of whom, such as Discovery and Netflix, had lobbied aggressively against the merger and cheered the deal’s collapse. But “content owners and providers” is a group that very much includes Comcast, by virtue of its owning NBC Universal, lending an unavoidable measure of irony to the outcome here.

The collapse of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger comes just as the TV industry is embarking on what is likely to be a long and contentious renegotiation of the size and cost of the bundle, and of the terms of distribution generally. In just the past few months we’ve seen the launch of Sling TV, Dish’s greatly slimmed down bundle of channels delivered over-the-top, the launches of CBS All Access  and HBO Now outside the bundle, and Verizon touch off a brawl with ESPN, Fox and (irony alert:) NBC with its unilateral rollout of FiOS Customer TV, offering subscribers mix-and-match packages of channels at reduced prices.

Up to now, thanks in large part to legacy FCC rules like must-carry and retransmission consent, the media companies, especially those tied to broadcasters, have held the upper hand over distributors in setting the price and scope of the bundle, leaving cable operators like Comcast squeezed between ever-growing carriage fees and increasing resistance to rate hikes by consumers. But Comcast, along with Verizon and other major ISPs with significant pay-TV interests, have made it very clear, in their dealings with Netflix for instance, that they would like to see a very different dynamic, and very different terms, emerge for over-the-top distribution.

For all its claims of consumer benefits that would have flowed from being allowed to merge with TWC, Comcast’s main goal in pursuing the acquisition was to gain scale and leverage for the negotiations to come over the terms of over-the-top distribution.

The bid has now gone by the wayside, which is, in the short term at least, a victory for broadcasters, because it leaves their current advantage of distributors undisturbed. In effect, if not intent, the government has put a very big thumb on the content owners’ side of the scales by rejected the Comcast-TWC merger, just as the FCC did in extending its net neutrality jurisdiction to cover interconnection arrangements between content providers and broadband providers.

The jockeying for leverage is just beginning, however. The collapse of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal is likely to turn out to be start of something, not the end.



Akamai CEO: Network infrastructure is being crippled by video demand

The scale of the issue is that this is a factor of a thousand beyond where we are today. While the connection into people’s homes is within a factor of 2, the big area of concern is with cloud data centres and the big carriers.

Peering points are getting congested and videos are getting thinned, the service is being harmed so that users are unable to get 10 or 20mbps, they instead get 1 or 2mbps.

One solution that Leighton suggests, is distributing the video much closer to your homes and pre positioning the popular content that you’re likely to watch.

via Akamai CEO: Network infrastructure is being crippled by demand – Computer Business Review.

​Generation YouTube: Today’s fastest-rising stars aren’t coming out of Hollywood – CNET

Thanks to the popularity of online media sites such as YouTube, today’s fastest-rising stars aren’t coming out of Hollywood. They’re teens hamming it up or breaking it down in front of a computer to create a new kind of entertainment.

These stars might be nobodies to many viewers over 25, but that won’t last long. Baffled by how to reach the most coveted and commercially influential audience — 16- to 34-year-olds — Hollywood’s biggest players are starting to back these invisible celebrities.

via ​Generation YouTube: Today’s fastest-rising stars aren’t coming out of Hollywood – CNET.

Comcast Kills Time Warner Cable Deal

Comcast Corp. on Friday ended its plans to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc., as increasing pressure from regulators prompted the end of the $45.2 billion deal.

“Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away,” Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts said in a news release Friday.

via Comcast Kills Time Warner Cable Deal – WSJ.

Cablevision Offers Packages Aimed at Cord-Cutters

Cablevision Systems Corp. is pitching new packages aimed at cord-cutters that combine broadband service with a free digital antenna to pick up local television signals.

The move by the New York cable operator is meant to appeal to consumers who are tired of rising pay-TV bills and are dropping those connections. It comes just days after Cablevision rival Verizon Communications Inc. launched new low-price packages for its FiOS TV service that allow customers to mix and match tiers of channels covering various genres over a slimmed-down basic package.

via Cablevision Offers Packages Aimed at Cord-Cutters – WSJ.

Comcast said to abandon $45B merger with TWC

Comcast is reportedly dropping its $45 billion plan to merger with Time Warner Cable amid signs of opposition from federal regulators.The report from Bloomberg News on Thursday comes after heightened scrutiny from both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which have shown concern about the combination of the nation’s two largest cable companies.

via Comcast said to abandon $45B merger with TWC | TheHill.

NHL cracks down on streaming apps during playoffs

The league on Tuesday warned news media to stop using apps like Periscope and Meerkat during or around games at the risk of violating broadcast rules, Yahoo Sports reported. Some credentialed media have live-streamed warm-ups or breaks in games to Twitter followers, which is what the two apps make possible, through a cell phone.

via NHL cracks down on streaming apps during playoffs.

FCC Staff Recommends Hearing on Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger

The Federal Communications Commission’s staff threw up a significant roadblock Wednesday to Comcast Corp.’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc., recommending a procedural move that could potentially sink one of the media industry’s biggest mergers in years.

The FCC staff reached a conclusion that the best option for the FCC is to issue a “hearing designation order,” according to people familiar with the matter. In effect, that would put the $45.2 billion merger in the hands of an administrative law judge, and would be seen as a strong sign the FCC doesn’t believe the deal is in the public interest.

via FCC Staff Recommends Hearing on Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger – WSJ.

Nathanson: Netflix Is 6% of TV Business, 43% of Ratings Decline

Netflix, which streamed 10 billion hours of video last quarter, now represents close to 6 percent of total TV viewing in the U.S., says analyst Michael Nathanson. More to the point: Nathanson figures that Netflix accounts for 43 percent of the ratings decline the networks experienced last quarter.

The MoffettNathanson analyst figures that trend will continue, and “Netflix as a percentage of traditional TV will steadily rise to the low-double-digit range over the next four years, representing the majority of the declines in traditional TV viewing.”

via Netflix Is 6% of TV Business, 43% of Ratings Decline — Nathanson | Re/code.

NAB 2015 Recap: Top Live, Linear & OTT Trends


LAS VEGAS–Last week’s National Association of Broadcasters convention here saw multiscreen, over-the-top broadcasting move, physically and figuratively, from a back corner of the Las Vegas Convention Center to front-and-center of the discussion.

“Broadcasting obviously does not exist in isolation, but as a vital piece of the dynamic and ever-changing media and entertainment landscape,” NAB president Gordon Smith said in his keynote address. “As we get closer to realization of the next generation of television broadcasting, we are beginnN15_ShowOpening_GordonSmith_1ing to envision the new business opportunities it could enable. I believe next gen may be the key to building TV’s future.”

Evidence of that future was everywhere at the show, from cloud-based IP workflows that support both over-the-air and over-the-top delivery to panels on programmatic ad strategies and multi-platform ad insertion to the dedicated pavilion for “connected media.” But broadcasting’s over-the-top future involves more than new workflows and devices. It also means new viewing behaviors, new monetization strategies and new financial models.

Here’s a rundown of the top themes and trends in live, linear and over-the-top video Concurrent Media spotted at the show, along with profiles of some of the leading trendsetters: Read More »

Comcast, TWC To Meet With DOJ In Bid To Save Merger

Staffers at both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission remain concerned a combined company would wield too much power in the broadband Internet market and give it unfair competitive leverage against TV channel owners and new market entrants that offer video programming online, said people with knowledge of the review.

via Comcast Strives to Save Merger With Time Warner Cable – WSJ.

Verizon’s ‘customizable’ FiOS TV packages violate contract, says ESPN

ESPN is fighting back just hours after Verizon announced plans to offer new FiOS TV packages that split up channels into cheaper, semi-a la carte bundles. The massive sports network, owned by the Walt Disney Company, said in a statement provided to Recode that Verizon’s new bundles “would not be authorized by our existing agreements.” The statement continues, “Among other issues, our contracts clearly provide that neither ESPN nor ESPN2 may be distributed in a separate sports package.”

via Verizon’s ‘customizable’ FiOS TV packages violate contract, says ESPN | The Verge.