Cable Companies Search For Greater Media Consumption

Big cable companies seem to be on the verge of making a major diversification decision. They are looking for a fourth major media/communication-related business line: wireless technology.

Reports suggest that Comcast and Charter are considering a wide-ranging partnership deal with Sprint, a wireless phone company, which recently has been the subject of a possible merger with T-Mobile. The latter's goal is to compete with major wireless companies, Verizon and AT&T.

The efforts by Comcast and Charter are also largely intended to compete with AT&T — which now has DirecTV, the biggest U.S. pay TV provider.

For some time now, cable companies have been mostly tied by wire to the consumer home — with video, broadband and landline-wired phone services, the so-called “triple play” for consumers.

Now, as video businesses consider transition, cable needs to find a way to add another product line: wireless service. That may not come from homegrown businesses — as with broadcast and wired phone — but through partnerships or outright acquisitions.



(For its part, earlier this year, Comcast began offering wireless service to its home broadband customers.)

Analysts have long described some cable operators — as well as satellite and telco providers — as “dumb” pipes. In response to this — and to grow expectations —some companies have expanded into other areas, such as TV/content creation. Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal is a prime example.

One wonders about the next step — perhaps making and selling modern TV sets and mobile devices, like Apple, Amazon or other companies. That would be a retro decision for TV-centric companies; RCA once owned NBC.

Look at retail giant Amazon, which is in a way working backwards. It started mostly with devices like tablets — and now digital home assistants — while moving aggressively to premium TV content, which is offered through its subscription video-on-demand service.

Business development executives at major media companies have always been tasked with looking at new tech -- as well as closer-to-home and flashy virtual multichannel video program services (vMVPD).

The question is: What gets monetized the fastest — and what should be left behind? How many media plays can consumers consume — with just one company?

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