Posted October 19, 2019 08:27:10As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, it’s worth looking back at how that deal came to be, and what that means for the future of the internet and TV in general.
As we’ve previously noted, the merger was supposed to bring with it more than $45 billion in tax breaks for both companies.
The deal, however, was ultimately doomed by the financial and regulatory problems that eventually surfaced.
The Comcast-NBCUniversal merger in 2010, which Comcast signed in December of that year, was a $45.4 billion deal that required Comcast to acquire NBCUniversal, a division of NBCUniversal that also included MTV, NBC Sports, CNBC, and Univision.
The acquisition was expected to be a major boon to Comcast, with the deal allowing it to increase its share of the US broadband market from 26.7 percent to 36.7, and also give Comcast more control over NBCUniversal’s content distribution.
However, the deal was plagued by regulatory issues, including the FCC’s attempt to require Comcast to offer a broadband plan with an overage fee that would be used to subsidize the cost of paying for the Comcast/NBCUniversal bundle.
The FCC’s proposal was ultimately blocked by a federal court, and the merger eventually collapsed.
The same year, Comcast sued the FCC for delaying the merger for more than a year, and won a court victory in March 2021, forcing the FCC to delay the merger indefinitely.
Comcast also sued the DOJ and US Attorney General Eric Holder, arguing that the merger violated antitrust law and could result in Comcast taking over other companies that had previously been acquired by the cable company.
Comcast sued to prevent the FCC from enforcing the merger’s terms and conditions, which were designed to provide more control and accountability over the Comcast merger.
The two sides settled, and Comcast announced that it would divest its media businesses from NBCUniversal in December 2021.
In a filing with the FCC in February 2018, Comcast announced the divestiture and that it was closing its NBCUniversal media businesses.
While the deal’s eventual success was ultimately due to Comcast’s ability to hold NBCUniversal accountable for its activities, the cable giant ultimately ended up losing much of its value as a result of its regulatory and legal woes.
The Comcast-Sprint merger in 2018 was a more straightforward deal, and was a result not only of the merger being approved, but also due to the success of the cable operator’s deal with Verizon.
The two companies had a $50 billion combined deal that would allow the two companies to compete on a nationwide basis.
Comcast sold the cable television business to Verizon in October 2018, and then took a controlling stake in the broadband company, becoming a wholly owned subsidiary.
In November of 2018, the FCC filed a lawsuit against Comcast for violating antitrust law by purchasing a stake in NBCUniversal.
The complaint alleged that Comcast had sold NBCUniversal for a lower price than it would have cost Comcast to own it.
The lawsuit alleged that the sale was “a violation of the Sherman Act, a statute that prohibits anticompetitive conduct by the conductor of a transaction involving price.”
The lawsuit was settled out of court in June 2019, and in September, Comcast agreed to pay $5.7 billion to settle the FTC’s antitrust investigation into the merger.
The settlement allowed the merger to go forward.
In December of 2018 and January of 2019, Comcast and Verizon announced the launch of a new internet TV service called Bright House Networks.
While the deal with Bright House was a success, the new service had several problems, including a poor user experience and a slow rollout.
In March of 2019 and April of 2019 , both companies filed lawsuits in the US District Court for the District of Columbia to halt the launch.
The lawsuits were later dismissed.
A month later, the Justice Department announced a settlement in a class action lawsuit against the two providers, and Bright House agreed to provide a free service for customers of both companies for three months, as part of the settlement.
The agreement required Bright House to provide customers of the two service providers with access to the same internet service and data plans that they would otherwise be able to purchase through their cable companies.
While Comcast’s and Bright Houses’ initial success in getting Bright House onto the internet helped pave the way for a more comprehensive deal, the Comcast deal itself is no longer considered a success.
Despite the company’s $45 bilion-plus in tax incentives, the company failed to bring in any additional revenue from the deal, leaving the government with a $10 billion bill.
While Bright House did manage to bring revenue to the government, the government’s $10bn debt load has been a major drag on the company.
The $5 billion settlement was a huge victory for the government.