A year ago at the annual Internet & Television Expo (formerly known as The Cable Show), Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was making jokes about the end of his company's bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision CEO Jimmy Dolan was proposing corporate matrimony on stage. (See Cablevision Chief Plays the Dating Game.)
This year, as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) gets ready to kick off the next INTX show, the industry will likely be in the middle of closing two of the most important deals in cable M&A history, and the cable landscape looks a lot different than it did just 12 short months ago.
After winning a nod from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) late last week, Charter Communications Inc. is waiting only on regulatory approval for its acquisitions of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks from the California Public Utilities Commission. The CPUC's approval is expected on May 12. (See Charter Wins FCC Merger Approval.)
Meanwhile, big French operator Altice is close to finalizing its acquisition of Cablevision after buying out Suddenlink Communications , its first US cable operator, last December. The New York Public Service Commission is expected to approve the Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) purchase on May 20, giving Altice the final clearance it needs to wrap up that much larger deal. (See Altice Clears Hurdle in Cablevision Buy, Wins FCC Approval.)
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) isn't involved in either of the major M&A transactions this spring, but that doesn't mean the nation's largest cable operator is sitting idly by on the sidelines. Having made some major investments in its network and video delivery operations, Comcast is fast building up its arsenal to compete with every major Internet and video service provider on the planet.
For a look at what's ahead for Comcast, New Charter and Altice, read on. This trio of cable operators will set the US cable agenda for video and broadband delivery in the coming months and years.
At a glance
Comcast, New Charter and Altice won't be the only American cable companies doing business after the end of this month, but they will control a huge percentage of the US cable market. Here's a look at the numbers:
These numbers are derived from the most recent earning reports of Comcast, Charter, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Suddenlink, as well as numbers listed for Bright House Networks in Charter transaction materials. Unfortunately, Comcast doesn't break out residential subscriber numbers from its business customer numbers, but it is possible to project what the New Charter and Altice numbers would look like if their business customers were added in to the figures above. New Charter would gain about 1.2 million additional customers spread across the video, Internet and voice categories. Altice would increase its numbers marginally by just under 100,000 business subscribers derived from Suddenlink's operations. Like Comcast, Cablevision includes business subscribers in its customer totals.
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