Light Reading

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        ADD A COMMENT
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
Comcast co-founder and longtime CEO Ralph Roberts leaves behind a lasting legacy of business success and integrity after passing away Thursday night at the age of 95.
Light Reading and SCTE are joining forces to create multimedia content about a number of key cable tech topics, starting with DOCSIS 3.1, WiFi and IP video.
In LR's inaugural BTE Video Summit, speakers will look at how the video industry is changing and how service providers can cope with those changes.
At the Gigabit Cities Live confab in Atlanta, speakers and participants float suggestions for the nation's first Gigabit State.
Despite the dire warnings of top telco and cable execs, Gigabit service rollouts and announcements have only sped up since the FCC passed its Title II rules less than three months ago.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
LRTV Documentaries
IoT in Action

6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (3) comments


Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (0) comments


Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
LRTV Custom TV
Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
LRTV Documentaries
OPNFV Director Opens Up on Women in Tech

6|25|15   |   3:25   |   (0) comments


Heather Kirksey, the director of the OPNFV, gets real about the gender disparity in open source and standards and discusses how we can change both the conversation and the gender dynamics.
LRTV Custom TV
Symantec's Service Provider Security Strategy

6|24|15   |   7:06   |   (0) comments


Didi Dayton explores Symantec's emerging enterprise security strategies for service providers. Highlights include 'killing the password,' self-defense, advanced analytics and adaptive response in a service provider architecture.
Between the CEOs
Debating Network Evolution With Cisco's Cedrik Neike

6|23|15   |   12:54   |   (2) comments


Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
LRTV Documentaries
Vodafone: What's Good for Moms Is Good for Business

6|23|15   |   3:04   |   (3) comments


Megan Doberneck, the general counsel for Vodafone Americas, discusses her company's progressive maternity policy, explains why promoting women in tech is good business and offers some some good advice for any women in the industry.
LRTV Interviews
NFV: Ready for Prime Time

6|23|15   |   05:09   |   (1) comment


At BTE 2015, Vip mobile CTO Dejan Kastelic talks about how NFV is ready for the real world and how Telekom Austria is introducing centralized resources for its group operations.
LRTV Documentaries
Tykes Talk Tech

6|22|15   |   02:30   |   (9) comments


What does optical fiber look like? When will 5G arrive? What's the WiFi password at Ikea? Light Reading sat down with three 8-year-olds to answer some of the communications industry's most burning questions...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Partners With TDC for World's First Early DOCSIS 3.1 Field Test

6|22|15   |   3:06   |   (0) comments


In a move to enhance user experience, Denmark's TDC aims to become an early adopter of DOCSIS 3.1. In partnership with Huawei, TDC recently ran the world's first field tests on its coax network that reached speeds nearing 1 Gbit/s.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Staying Productive With My Office-in-a-Bag
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 6/25/2015
WiFi Calling Catches on Globally
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 6/23/2015
Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
First Net Neutrality Complaint Hits TWC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
Cats with Phones