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Have an opinion on the Charter TWC Merger ? Tell the FCC!

I doubt it’s widely known that the FCC accepts comments from anyone on issues they are reviewing. (How much impact these have is probably another story).

Rumors are that Charter’s planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable is marching steadily forward , without nearly the obstacles that Comcast faced.

Cable still uses door to door sales people. courtesy Alexandre Normand on Flickr

Cable still uses door to door sales people.
courtesy Alexandre Normand on Flickr

Many of the comments from business entities are positive, for example this one from the Dallas Regional Chamber. Not surprising that some business interests expect a bigger service provider might be of benefit.

But the more interesting ones are from Joe Citizen. My favorite is this guy in MA whose complaint centers on the bundled services the door to door sales people are  pushing him to buy.

Have an opinion on comment on the merger? Post it below or if you prefer share it with the FCC.

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Hypocrisy of Cable Corp Merges with CableWorld | DIRECTV Commercial

Have you seen this? It’s kind of funny, not hugely so. But the message is so extremely hypocritical I couldn’t let it go unchallenged.

So apparently “Cable Corp” and “Cable World” are supposed to be Charter and Time Warner Cable. We only know for sure because at the end of the spot the Cable World guy says it’s “going to be fun , firing everyone.”

So what’s the problem? While it’s true that Charter is in the process of acquiring Time Warner Cable, did someone forget to tell this ad agency that AT&T recently acquired DirectTV?  And that  merger gives AT&T “26 million TV subscribers, making it the largest pay TV company in the country” .

The Charter/TWC deal by comparison will end up with 23 million customers.

The mocking nature of the ad is somewhat insider humor. One of the Cable Corp (TWC) guys talks about how bad Cable World (Charter) is: “that company stinks…. I used to work there”. In reality, in the small world of Cable you will find employees that have worked for several of the companies throughout their career. And some come away with opinions about one company being less well run than the other.

But back to  messaging here : Charter/TWC will be just a bigger less competent company and you should “get rid of Cable…switch to DirecTV”. 

DirecTV and Charter are essentially the same things – PayTV companies. That one uses coax cables and the other uses satellite dishes is of little consequence – unless you need internet. In that case DirecTV is going to somehow merge their satellite service with AT&T’s U-verse to give you both video and data. Based on my experience that customer service experience is going to be messy if not downright nightmare-ish.

But now I’m getting too technical. My main point:

DirecTV you are also a Cable/PayTV company and you just completed a major merger so your silly ad is huge hypocrisy.

While researching this post i discovered that Comcast (their TWC deal  collapsed) had put out their own ad mocking AT&T/DirectTV. And their message is actually accurate, and funny:

The Moment No One’s Been Waiting For


Have you experienced the new DirecTV? Share your thoughts below:

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Cord Cutting Getting Real – But What’s Next?

Wow!  I’ve been doing this blog since 2011 when “cord cutter” was pretty much an industry insider term. When only nerds talked about using strange set tops to get streaming content.

But when I read that Pay TV lost 566K Subs in Q2 it would seem that cord cutting is now having major impact. So significant that the Wall Street Journal is using terms like “Media Meltdown” and blaming cord cutters for the the recent decline in both the Nasdaq and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Meanwhile, check out what’s happening over at Netflix were stock gains seem to be the reverse of the trend in Cable.

But the future is still hazy. We seem to be in a time of experimentation by the content providers.  Are we really going to have dozens of “mini-bundles” or “skinny-bundles” as the new Pay TV model?  I agree with the article – no single mini bundle makes sense for everyone.

The ideal of course, from the consumer point of view, would be “create your own bundle, i.e. a la carte. And not only a la carte but CHEAP a la carte. If my 10  or 20 channels add up to the cost of the traditional Cable bundle then what’s the point? By the way Sony’s VUE is said to be the first offering a la carte but details are sketchy.

a la carte? courtesy jeffreyw on flickr

a la carte?
courtesy jeffreyw on flickr

Maybe a la carte won’t happen. It doesn’t work for restaurants so why should it work for Pay TV.

So what’s next? If I had to bet, I’d put my money on Netflix. They already have the  infrastructure and a huge growing subscriber base. I see a partnership or two on the horizon….


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Ronda Rousey vs Correia: Sometimes There is no Free TV

A commuting buddy of mine told me about his deep “admiration” for Ronda Rousey, a UFC fighter I must confess I have never heard of prior. But if Cable wants to survive in the Over the Top world – more events like this might be the key.

Ronda has been so successful that she usually finished off her opponents in 30 seconds or less. Yet people are willing to pay up to $60 for this as a pay per view. No doubt UFC will  have to add lots of filler and extras to make this into an event of some reasonable length.

The viewing options for the fight – which kicks off at 7pm PDT – are many. But none of them are free.

One of the more convenient options might be this $49 deal from YouTube (embedded above).

And since it is the perfect excuse to go out tonight, my favorite is this “Find a Bar” option. It might be best to call ahead and ask what the cover charge is.

But you can also stream it to Roku, AppleTV, Android XBOX and stand alone web streaming options.

UFC events aren’t my usual cup of tea – I’m more into golf -  but this one looks like fun. And hey, Ronda is from Southern California giving us another reason to cheer her on.


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Easy to read stats courtesy of the Leichtman Research Group.


Read the whole article here.

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Charter TWC and the Cord Cutter

So immediately after the colossal failure of Comcast’s attempt to acquire Time Warner Cable, number four aka Charter comes along with the same idea. Well actually it was Charter’s idea originally but they had managed to insult Time Warner Cable with their low ball offer.

Charter and Atlanta Braves are both controlled by Liberty Media. Photo courtesy SLayer on Flickr

Charter and Atlanta Braves are both partly controlled by Liberty Media. Photo courtesy SLayer on Flickr

Will Charter be successful this time? And what if anything does this mean to cord cutters across the U.S. ?

I can tell you that mere days before the Comcast deal fell apart the industry was absolutely positive it was going through. New leadership roles had already been defined by Comcast and some people had changed jobs because they didn’t want to work for Comcast.

So this time we hear “don’t worry”, this is going to be easier. The combined companies won’t be as massive as Comcast/TWC so the Feds won’t object as strongly. I agree with the market, putting the odds at 50 50. It would be foolish not to learn from the past. And I think there is at least one Comcast (former ?) lobbyist out there that agrees. And f you find this kind of speculation entertaining,  watch the stock prices of these companies as the deal comes to the expected close date. Wall Street seems to know just a bit ahead of the general public.

Meanwhile, is another Cable merger , albeit a smaller one, good for cord cutters? I doubt this one will have much impact. My own area would change from TWC to Charter (assuming they keep that name) and I’d still have U-verse, Dish and DirecTV as competition.

A  slightly bigger concern would be if AT&T is allowed to purchase DirecTV. That dea; would take the competitive field down from 3 to 4.  At least in terms of “Pay TV” providers.

But since everything, I expect, will eventually be delivered via the internet (OTT) what really matters is the number of internet service providers in the world. Post Charter/TWC I’d still have two: AT&T/U-verse or Charter. That’s it really. There are no WISP‘s, or independents that I can buy internet from. Even if there were, they’d be buying their pipe from the same two big providers.

In the near future, at least, it looks like that’s where we are headed. What I’ term a “virtual duopoly”. Coke or Pepsi. Apple or Android. You will have a choice, but not a big one, and prices will stabilize. That is unless Google Fiber gets serious.

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What we learned from the Comcast/TWC fail

For 15 months execs at Comcast were all but certain that their $45 B bid for Time Warner Cable would succeed. This acquisition attempt died a quick death on April 23, 2015. What happened and what can we learn from it?

comcast mike mozart flickr

Los Angeles won’t be seeing these anytime soon. photo: mike mozart flickr


On the surface it appears that the US regulators, in this case the FCC and the DOJ simply don’t like mega mergers that are so obviously a no-win for consumers. Comcast went in with some pretty weak arguments.

The simple truth was that Comcast would emerge with 57% of the US internet market and 30% of the pay TV customers. It was just too obvious that the new bigger company would not likely produce better service and lower prices for anyone. Just as it was obvious that AT&T + T-Mobile – another deal killed by regulators – would  not be good for consumers.

If we are not cynical, we can take this to mean that all the money and influence in the world doesn’t always get you what you want. If it did, TWC would have been absorbed by the end of  2015.  There is still some balance in US politics, it is not completely for sale.

For cord cutters? The decision was good news. Netflix and the emerging streaming market were not going to benefit from a bigger Comcast.

There are certainly many mid and upper level managers at TWC breathing a temporary sigh of relief. But those that follow the industry know this is just a pause, and that news of a possible Charter-TWC  merger is already breaking. For Charter to succeed they will have to do a better job convincing us all that there is any benefit to another merger.



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Guess whose site is “Mobile Friendly”

When APM Market Place did a piece tonight on Google’s new SEO criteria I rushed home to test my own site. Proud to report the results:




The surprising part of the story was that major web sites were not ready and would be penalized by Google. Guess they should have used Word Press. Maybe Nintendo and Kroger will want to buy ad space from Cord Cutter Guide!

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Verizon FiOs Custom TV: Will it actually save you money?

So Verizon has decided to jump into the “exploding number of options” of new trimmed down cable packages. With a basic lineup at $54 and additional “genre packs” at $10 each this seems like a  way to shave a few bucks off of your cable bill.  But how much will you really save?

Photo: "Tax Credits" on Flickr

Photo: “Tax Credits” on Flickr

Toward the end of the Washington Post piece we read this :

“With Internet included, the Verizon package will add up to well over $100 a month…

Seriously? Isn’t that above the average cable bill in the US ? Well these numbers get ambiguous  when it is not clearly stated if internet is part of the package.  (The $54 package does NOT include internet).

I like this Quartz piece which in turn pointed me to the actual Time Warner Cable data where we read these averages for 2014:

video: $76.93
internet: $46.92
total: $123.85

These are good actual numbers to use when comparison shopping and now we can see that the Verizon’s cheapest video only lineup might actually save us about $22 per month if we’re content with it.

But internet is almost a must have in today’s world. If we go to Verizon’s cheapest package with internet at $64.99 we would be saving  $58.86 over the TWC average. Of course our “savings”  comes from the fact that we are simply getting less content i.e. channels.

Conclusion? Cord cutters are having an impact and the Pay TV providers are fighting back in a basic way – by offering low cost options. Of course if you really want to save some dough, shop for your best internet package, put up an antenna, subscribe to Netflix, and cut the cord entirely.


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Final Masters round not a problem for cord cutters

Surprisingly watching the 4th round of #TheMasters is not an issue for cord cutters today. That is if you’re happy with the offerings over at This isn’t exactly what CBS will be broadcasting later today. But it is a lot of golf offering 4 different video streams.

 UPDATE 11:30am PDT: CBS Broadcast is also free streaming.

Live coverage requires no credentials. Just click the image below:




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