Comcast-Time Warner Cable: The NY Times Likes It, So Why Worry?
An online piece from the New York Times Business Day section makes the case that because Comcast/Time Warner merger will allow the new company to squeeze content providers, the resulting savings will flow through to their customers. The general tone of the piece is that anyone that has issue with deal is relying on old-fashioned regulatory standards. And they’re right. They just picked the wrong side of the argument.
The likely result of this combination is that any cost savings from content costs will go directly to Comcast’s bottom line (not that there’s anything wrong with it). Because seriously, when was last time your cable or internet provider, or any utility for that matter, called you up and said, “Hey, we just cut a money-saving deal, so we’re going to charge you less.” Meanwhile, the content providers they squeeze (i.e. Netflix, Hulu) will simply make up for the pressure to their margins with higher prices to their subscribers (like me and you). I’m still trying to figure out why they think anyone’s Comcast bills will go down.
But according to the geniuses quoted in the NYT piece, since the two companies don’t currently operate in the same local cable markets, “the merger really has no impact on competition”. They say this deal is “pretty much an open-and-shut case”. Correct, except for the fact that they’ve got it backwards. It’s open-and-shut that this deal shouldn’t happen, since the result would be a monopoly. How else would one classify a company that controlled over 30% of US internet infrastructure, almost 30% of the country’s cable subscriber base, plus NBC Universal?
This deal essentially creates a high-tech version of Standard Oil, with little to benefit the consumer. Unless they happened to own Comcast stock.
No, not the NFL Combine (that’s over anyway). But if you’re interested in working on Wall Street and thought you never stood a chance, this may be your shot at the big time.
Set up as a competition, the Wall St. Combine will pick 50 winners from a pool of applicants based on a variety of metrics. Over the course of a weekend, judges will look at intangibles like street-smarts, raw intellect and how you handle pressure, to see if you’ve got what it takes. The 50 winners get an intro to an exclusive finance network that will help put them on the right career path, according to the Combine organizers. In other words, an all-access pass to the shakers and movers on the Street.
This Combine isn’t just for guys. All college juniors and seniors are eligible, as well as post-grads under two years. So, if you didn’t go to the so-called “right school” or your GPA didn’t earn you a look from the bulge-bracket talent scouts, here’s your chance to go pro. Sounds like it’s worth a look.
WebpageFX, an internet marketing firm, created the following maps to analyze how the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger could affect the market for internet service providers. To build these images, data was collected based on how many visits each ISP received in every state. The companies displayed in these images were the most prominent ones in each state.
A few days after my last blog post on cutting the cord on cable, I got the following cryptic tweet:
— GroupFlix (@GroupFlix)March 1, 2014
Which led me to the SpringBeta for GroupFlix. Since I’d never heard of them (and I’m betting you haven’t) I did a little research. It turns out GroupFlix is a San Franciso-based tech start-up that is rolling out an online, a-la-carte, streaming service that also promises better pricing than iTunes, Netflix and HuluPlus.
The company’s founder, James Norman is also the brains behind the video aggregation site, Ubi. According to Bezinga.com, the company will integrate with UltraViolet, and plans to intrduce an iPad app, before ultimately coming to Android and possibly Google Chrome.
There’s still the question of content, but according to BlackEnterpise.com, GroupFlix is in talks with Warner Bros. Entertainment and Sony Pictures. Their SpringBeta, which starts this month currently has less than 250 spots. If they can pull it off, GroupFlix stands to disrupt cable television the way Napster changed the way we listen to music.
UPDATE: Last night, I had this exchange with GroupFlix, via a Paul Pedroski tweet:
— GroupFlix (@GroupFlix)March 5, 2014
Which led to this:
— GroupFlix (@GroupFlix)March 5, 2014
I’m still reading the OTT (Over-the-Top) Report, so stay tuned.
I’m Cutting The Cord! My Personal Rage Against the Cable TV Machine
I finally got so fed up with paying for bundles of a 900 channels just to get the five or ten shows the family watches, I’m in the process of “cutting the cord”. Time Warner was my provider, and between sports and HBO we’re paying about $180/month. I also don’t like the idea of the Comcast/Time Warner merger, or the recent Netflix deal, so there’s probably more than a little protest blended in my decision. Here’s my plan:
The Comcast/Time Warner combination isn’t your garden variety mega-deal. Don’t be fooled: this is not a cable TV deal.
With more viewers unplugging from cable boxes for cheaper (or free) alternatives such as Netflix and YouTube, this merger is really a play for pricing control over the internet. And since the chairman of the FCC is a former cable industry lobbyist, see things turning out great for customers.
Should the deal succeed, it will almost certainly mean higher bandwidth consumption fees for both content providers and consumers alike. The days of all-day streaming of Spotify or Pandora for free will be all but over. In other words, goodbye competition.
This piece from Salon lays out some of the issues, but be sure to check out the GigaOm link in the story for more granular information.
RIP Nelson Mandela
With today’s near-universal access to information and technology, buy-side firms expect more than they did just a few years ago. There is little room for brokers whose sole value proposition is offering low-priced executions.