Light Reading
Power outage in Los Angeles during the Super Bowl broadcast represents the latest in a series of embarrassments for Time Warner Cable.

TWC: How the Mighty Have Fallen

Alan Breznick
2/3/2014
50%
50%

It's hard not to feel a bit sorry for Time Warner Cable these days, as the beleaguered MSO keeps running into new walls or tripping over its own wires.

Although it's still the second largest cable operator in the Western Hemisphere, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has definitely lost its aura of invincibility over the last few months. Just like an old boxing champ who has taken one too many shots to the head, the MSO appears to be staggering about as it struggles to stay on its feet in the ring.

In the latest indignity to befall it, TW Cable suffered an embarrassing power outage in its sprawling Los Angeles system during the Super Bowl broadcast late Sunday afternoon. The outage, which lasted more than 70 minutes, knocked out the standard-definition digital feed from KTTV, the local Fox station carrying the NFL championship game.

As a result, TWC's SD digital subscribers didn't get to watch the half-time show staged by Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. SD viewers also missed parts of the second and third quarters of the matchup between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, which quickly turned into a Seahawks rout.

Fortunately for TWC and its Los Angeles subscribers, the outage did not interrupt service for the MSO's HD viewers. Nor did it affect cable viewers watching the Spanish language telecast on Fox Deportes.

But the outage, which TW Cable blamed on an unexplained "technical issue" with KTTV's SD feed, came at precisely the wrong time and in the wrong place for the cable giant. Not only did it occur during the Super Bowl, the most watched telecast of the year, but it occurred in one of the two biggest markets that the MSO serves. Plus, the outage occurred just three days after TWC unveiled ambitious plans to transform its New York and Los Angeles cable systems into showcases of advanced technology and consumer service later this year. Oy!

Of course, it could have been worse. The outage could have affected HD subscribers too and taken place in the even bigger New York market, TWC's hometown. And it could have happened during a close, exciting game, rather than a boring blowout. But that's still small consolation the day after the game, when media headlines across the nation are blaring about the lost video feed in Southern California.

Moreover, the Super Bowl fadeout comes just five months after TW Cable suffered through a public relations trashing by CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) over retransmission-consent fees just before the start of the football season late last summer. That bitter losing battle led to probably the worst operating period in the MSO's history, as it shed more than 300,000 video, 100,000 voice, and 24,000 broadband subscribers in the third quarter and entered the fall reeling like a drunk. (See TW Cable Hemorrhages Subs.)

Plus, the video outage comes just weeks after Charter Communications Inc. officials gave their TWC counterparts an extremely rare dressing-down in public. In their zeal to prove that they could manage TWC's assets better than the company's own executives, Charter officials ripped into TWC's "failed operating strategy" and labeled it "a turnaround project," among other derogatory statements. And TWC had to endure all this trash talk from a much smaller cable operator that went bankrupt less than six years earlier and teetered on the threshold of a breakup itself for several years. (See Charter Goes Over TWC's Head.)

So, if the old TWC swagger seems gone these days, it's certainly understandable. At the company's Columbus Circle headquarters, it's not about pride right now, it's about survival.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/4/2014 | 1:23:16 PM
Re: Goodbye Columbus
This may be more a case of neglectful (and maybe worse) parenting on the part of Time Warner. The cable operation is one manifestation of a broader problem -- a company that got into too many things and ended up doing very few of them well. It has a familiar ring, and it's a mistake that usually doesn't get learned from.
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
2/4/2014 | 12:30:08 PM
Re: Goodbye Columbus
Oy. That's midtown in name only. They might as well just move to Jersey then and have great views of midtown. 
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/4/2014 | 9:05:08 AM
Re: Goodbye Columbus
I feel like the decline has been in the works for some time, only recently come to light courtesy of Charter. It probably began in earnest in 2009 when they decided to try and force everybody onto unreasonably low cap and overage data plans, then had to backtrack. It was compounded by the fact they were timind in deploying DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades despite the relative inexpensiveness of the upgrades. They've been writing this mediocre book for a while now.

Now finally they promise real upgrades, but will likely be acquired before those upgrades even arrive. Good job all around I guess.
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/3/2014 | 7:26:09 PM
Re: Goodbye Columbus
Technically, TW will still be in midtown -- but opposite the Javits Gulag.
Mitch Wagner
100%
0%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/3/2014 | 6:51:41 PM
Re: Goodbye Columbus
TWC never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. 
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
2/3/2014 | 6:09:58 PM
Re: Goodbye Columbus
Yep. Thanks, Dennis. I forgot about that one. Another comedown for the once-proud MSO. Don'tthink the Jersey views will make up for the midtown exodus. 
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/3/2014 | 6:07:31 PM
Goodbye Columbus
FYI, Time Warner announced a week or so ago that it is selling the Time Warner Center and moving to a location nearer the Hudson River. The views of New Jersey will be even more spectacular.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Breznick Unbound
As expected, US cable broadband subscribers pass cable video subs for the first time in latest report from Leichtman Research Group.
While the No. 2 US MSO is accelerating plans for all-digital video and broadband speed upgrades, it's still desperately playing catch-up.
In yet another attempt to conquer the TV set, Google is launching its Android TV operating system for the big video screen. But will it succeed where other attempts have failed?
In the latest edition of its Visual Networking Index (VNI) study, Cisco forecasts that HD and Ultra HD video will account for nearly two-thirds of all IP video traffic by 2018.
Seven new cable products take the stage this year, covering a wide range of the technology spectrum.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Custom TV
Using Service Quality to Drive WiFi Monetization

10|22|14   |   6:51   |   (0) comments


Live from the SCTE conference: Heavy Reading's Alan Breznick explores the forces shaping the WiFi opportunity in an interview with CableLabs' Justin Colwell and Amdocs' Ken Roulier.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed Access Architectures – 2

10|21|14   |   8:51:00 AM   |   (0) comments


ARRIS CTO Network Solutions Tom Cloonan discusses why many if not most MSOs will continue with integrated CCAP, while addressing why some are also looking at two futuristic, distributed access architectures: Remote PHY and Remote CCAP.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed Access Architectures – 1

10|21|14   |   9:01   |   (0) comments


SCTE Sr. Director of Engineering Dean Stoneback discusses the pros and cons of distributed access architecture (DAA) and its various forms, which range from basic Remote PHY to full CMTS functionality in the node.
LRTV Custom TV
The WiFi Road to Riches – 2

10|21|14   |   3:58   |   (0) comments


ARRIS Senior Solution Architect Eli Baruch talks about how MSOs can enable public and community WiFi through 1) outdoor access points, 2) businesses seeking to offer WiFi to customers, and 3) residential WiFi gateway extensions.
LRTV Custom TV
The WiFi Road to Riches – 1

10|21|14   |   10:15   |   (0) comments


SCTE Director of Advanced Technologies Steve Harris discusses WiFi deployments, drivers, challenges and advances, including 802.11ac, carrier-grade WiFi, community WiFi, Hotspot 2.0, Passpoint, WiFi-First and voice-over-WiFi.
LRTV Custom TV
Advantech Accelerates 100G Traffic Handling

10|17|14   |   7:56   |   (0) comments


Paul Stevens from Advantech explains why handling 100GbE needs a whole new platform design approach and how Advantech is addressing the needs of equipment providers and carriers to give them the flexibility and performance they will need for SDN and NFV deployment.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Holland's Imtech Traffic & Infra Discusses Huawei's ICT Solution and Services

10|16|14   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Dimitry Theebe is from the business unit at Imtech Traffic & Infra which delivers communications solutions for transportations. His partnershp with Huawei began about a years ago. In this video, Theebe speaks more about this partnership and what he hopes to accomplish with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Comprehensive Storage Solutions Vital for SVR

10|16|14   |   6:16   |   (0) comments


SVR Information Technology provides cloud services for academic and special sectors. With Huawei's support, SVR and Yildiz Technical University has established Turkey's largest and most advanced High Performance Computing system. CSO Ismail Cem Aslan talks about what he hopes Huawei's OceanStor storage system will bring for him.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Mexico's Servitron's Impression of Huawei at CCW 2014

10|16|14   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Servitron is a network operator in Mexico that has been in the trunking industry for the past 20 years. Its COO, Ing. Ragnar Trillo O., explains at Critical Communications World 2014 that his company has been interested in the long-term evolution of LTE technology and its adoption for TETRA.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Better Dubai

10|16|14   |   2:06   |   (0) comments


Abdulla Ahmed Al Falasi is the director of commercial affairs, a telecommunications coordinator for the government of Dubai. Their areas of service span across multiple industries, including police, safety, shopping malls and more. In this video, Abdulla talks about his department's work with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Lights Up Malaysia Partner Maju Nusa

10|16|14   |   1:59   |   (0) comments


Malaysia's Maju Nusa is an enterprise partner to Huawei in networking, route switches and telco equipment. At this year's Critical Communications World in Singapore, CTO Pushpender Singh talks about what Huawei's eLTE solutions mean to his company and for Malaysia.
LRTV Custom TV
Evolving From HFC to FTTH Networks

10|15|14   |   2:19   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Todd McCrum delves into the future of cable's HFC plant, examining how DOCSIS 3.1 and advanced video compression will extend its life and how the IP video transition will usher in GPON and EPON over FTTH.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Analysts Warn of Major NFV Gaps
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/22/2014
Is Health the Killer App for the IoT?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 10/22/2014
iPad Air 2 Lets Users Switch Carriers Any Time
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/17/2014
NYC Subway Wireless No Cure for Ebola Fears
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/16/2014
The Human Gain of the Smart Home
Robin Mersh, 10/20/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed