According to a rumor started by David Faber over at CNBC, Comcast [NASDAQ:CMCSA] and Time Warner [NYSE:TWC] will be announcing a merger deal that will result in Comcast absorbing Time Warner Cable in an all stock deal to the tune of $44 billion. This would combine the nation’s largest and second largest cable providers and would effectively result in the biggest cable operator by an incredibly wide margin. As of 2012, Comcast has 22 million subscribers while Time Warner Cable had 12 million, the combination of the two would result in a company with a make up of roughly 30 million subscribers, compared to AT&T Uverse and Verizon’s FIOS which both sit around 4-5 million subscribers each.
Frankly, not only do I think that this is a horrible deal for consumers, but I also believe that this deal will not pass muster in terms of FTC, FCC or even DoJ requirements. Sure, DirecTV has 20 million subscribers and Dish has 14 million, but the problem is that Time Warner Cable is not only a provider of TV service, they also provide internet service. And by merging with Comcast they further reduce an already non-competitive market to essentially a handful of players since neither DirecTV nor Dish can deliver broadband-class internet speeds at affordable prices.
Such a deal would also be disasterous for Time Warner Cable customers, including yours truly because it would mean that I would become a Comcast customer and would be beholden to their monthly data caps, port filtering (and monitoring) and and not to mention worse customer service. Let’s remember, in 2010 they were named the Worst Company in America, a title that many of their customers believe they wholeheartedly have earned.
The real truth is that Time Warner Cable has already gone through acquisition talks with other competitors, namely, the $61 billion Charter deal that would have paid $37 billion for the company and the remained was financing debt. The problem with that deal was that it was basically paying the market price of Time Warner Cable’s stock ($133) rather than paying any sort of premium (Charter’s mistake). Now, they’re offering $7 billion more than the company’s current price of $135 and may actually get this deal to get approved by Time Warner Cable’s board of directors. Even though, I really don’t see any benefit to consumers whatsoever and it only creates a monstrosity of a cable provider and only stifles competition further and hurts consumers. This is a bad deal and I hope the FCC, FTC and DoJ see that as well, which I believe they will.
This is all hot on the heels of a rumor that Time Warner Cable is working with Apple to deploy an Apple Set-top-box to their customers. While it remains to be seen if this rumor is true, it would be a huge boost to Time Warner Cable’s value if they would try to sell themselves to a competitor. Even though, to be honest, I think they would be better off trying to work out such an Apple deal themselves and cashing out on the business they gain from it (like AT&T did with the iPhone).