For months, Liberty Media Chairman John Malone pushed for Charter Communications to take over Time Warner. Malone’s Liberty Media owns 27% of Charter, the fourth-largest U.S. cable company.
Malone got part of his wish with the Comcast deal because his ultimate aim -- as a long-time instigator and mover -- was for consolidation of the cable industry so it could move to the next level of competing with the likes of Netflix and. But there has been little mention about what this might bring to marketers.
The cable industry is essentially looking for its next act. Its consumer video business is still solid, but overall subscriber numbers are down. That said, existing subscribers continue to pay rising monthly fees.
Cable’s broadband and phone businesses continue to grow, but many of the industry’s executives are looking farther down the road -- to where the likes of Google will continue to find ways of siphoning off more pieces of the media/advertising business.
Comcast continues to boost its Xfinity video/Internet brand. At the same time, TV networks, especially broadcast, continue to eye video-on-demand services, something Comcast has been pushing for years.
But what does the Comcast-Time Warner deal ultimately mean for advertisers? When you talked with any media-buying executives over the last several decades, they would say that more competition in any particular area would be good, perhaps because it would lower ad costs.
What about other areas that media planning and buying executives have pushed to increase -- like addressable advertising? Former Starcom Media executive Tim Hanlon, now founder/chief executive officer of The Vertere Group, said the Comcast-Time Warner deal “hastens tech innovation on the advertising front, as it eventually harmonizes the 30 million plus households on a common ad tech platform -- addressable advertising, dynamic ad insertion in VOD -- something the Canoe Ventures consortium could never do.”
All that isn’t top of mind yet for Comcast-Time Warner executives. But with 33 million homes, representing nearly 30% of the 112 million U.S. TV homes, this should be a starting point to give other media executives what they want.
Wayne, you're highly read-able and an astute reporter on all matters TV, and I mean that. So confirming your take -- and what you don't mention -- while this merger may force a few transmedia and new multi-platform content strategies to the fore, it has nothing -- and I mean nothing -- to do with audiences and Comcast-TW customers.
The importance of "customer satisfaction" evaporates when a firm like this plans on doubling its vast size, reducing competition to rubble. For example, cell phone plan providers like AT&T and Verizon dominate an industry that's also an oligopoly, where only a few suppliers of service even exist. As such, cell phone plan contracts have oodles of fine print with provisions that they'd never get away with if there were, say, other cell phone plan providers -- because "customer satisfaction" would be rotten, and customers would actually have the option of leaving for a better contract offer or better service. This merger pretty much eradicates the need for any of those considerations whatsoever. Which is why no one anywhere is talking about Comcast-Time Warner's customers or audiences anymore. Because they cease to matter to oligopolies. As a result, audiences will get less and less satisfaction, and likely dwindle into the future.
Paul, you are too kind. It will get worse than your outline.
With broadband becoming a utility it is urgent to go back to the days when consumers had more options not less..