Charter Communication’s plan to acquire Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks is nearing FCC approval after a long and complicated hearing process.
If the merger is allowed to go through, Charter will become the second-largest broadband provider in the country and the third-largest video provider. Although a similar attempt by Comcast was highly criticized, there was significantly less concern about a Charter merger, both due to scope and business practices.
Charter Making Deals with Streaming Video Providers
One of the most remarkable things about Charter’s merger is the effort the company is making to work with streaming video providers rather than attempting to throttle them.
The company has already struck deals with opponents like Netflix, promising to not charge access fees no matter how much traffic they create. There are also whispers the FCC has persuaded Charter to agree to not pressure programmers like Viacom and Disney to withhold content from streaming services.
Between the FCC’s recent ruling opening up the set top box to allow blended service systems from companies like Google and Apple, and the overwhelming public demand for streaming services and ala carte video subscriptions, Charter’s strategy of making deals rather than making threats seems to be the right approach. Charter’s willingness to work with regulators to create a network that’s more friendly to streaming services should serve it for years to come. Despite the cord cutters, there’s still plenty of room in the market for cable television.
Will Subscribers Be Harmed?
There has been some concern over the harm this merger may cause subscribers, but Charter has told regulators the merger will allow it to bring faster broadband to even more customers. Charter has also volunteered to offer cheaper plans for low-income homes, and some theorize it may also promise not to impose data caps or usage-based pricing on streamers before the deal is complete.
All things considered, the Charter-Time Warner-Bright House merger may prove to be the catalyst to big change for streaming video providers everywhere. As cable companies come to better understand their roles in an increasingly streaming world, customers should see better, faster service and streaming providers’ stronger relationships with their former rivals.