More than half of consumers are against the proposed $45 billion Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger, saying it will result in higher customer costs, worse service and fewer choices.
According to a survey of more than 1,500 consumers by Consumer Reports National Research Center, 56% of consumers are opposed to the merger, while only 11% are in favor of the deal. (About a third, meanwhile, had no opinion.)
“I think most consumers are concerned it’s going to result in a worse situation for them,” Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union (the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports), tells Marketing Daily. “The fact is consumers are already dissatisfied with these two companies, which are are at the bottom of our [satisfaction surveys].”
(In Consumer Reports’ annual survey of television and Internet service, Comcast and Time Warner cable, ranked 15th and 16th, respectively -- out of 17 companies -- in television service.)
In the nationally representative online survey, 74% of Americans felt the merger would result in higher Internet and cable prices for everyone. A similar percentage said it would also lead to fewer choices overall of cable and Internet providers, with fewer companies able to compete with a merged entity. Two-thirds of Americans said the deal would give the companies little incentive to improve customer service, while 54% said they felt customer satisfaction would drop if the merger were approved.
“There’s a lack of competition, and in many areas, consumers have only one choice” for cable and Internet, Derakhshani says. “It’s important for regulators and legislators to look closely at this deal.”
Despite assertions that the proposed $45 billion deal would enable the two companies to save money through efficiencies, consumers are unconvinced it will be passed on to them, according to the survey. Only 16% said they felt the merger would allow Comcast to lower its costs, and only a third felt it would allow the two companies to develop innovative products and services.
“They’re making a lot of promises,” says Derakhshani, who was on her way to appear at a hearing held by the New York State Public Service Commission. “Our position is that the merger should be rejected.”
The survey was conducted prior to AT&T and DirecTV’s merger announcement, which was made in May. But even at that time, 61% of Americans felt the Comcast/Time Warner deal’s approval would spur even more consolidation. “Even before the AT&T deal was announced, consumers were worried that this would lead to other large-scale mergers,” Derakhshani says. “They were right to be concerned.”