Merger of the 2nd, 4th, and 6th largest cable providers in the nation would create a company rivaling Comcast in size and subscribers.
It didn’t take long for Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable to rekindle their old romance, as many expected that they would. Prior to Comcast’s ultimately unsuccessful bid for Time Warner Cable, Charter was in talks to buy the company, until it was essentially outbid by its larger rival. Though ever since regulators put the kibosh on that deal, many have speculated that Charter would make another move for TWC. Their latest offer is both more than their previous bid for the company, and even larger than Comcast’s recent proposal: a whopping $55 billion. In an added twist, this cable couple will become a threesome with the addition of a second $10 billion deal for Bright House Networks.
As the nation’s 2nd, 4th, and 6th largest cable providers seek to merge, they will create a company with just a few million subscribers less than cable giant Comcast, and serving almost one in six US cable subscribers. Despite its own failed bid for Time Warner Cable, in a statement Comcast praised Charter’s three-way deal. But much like Comcast’s own bid, regulators are likely to give the deal a close look before giving any sort of stamp of approval. While there’s a much higher likelihood that it survive regulatory scrutiny, since it wouldn’t create a company anywhere near the size of a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the FCC’s recent rejection of that deal and sweeping new net neutrality regulations have created what many analysts would call a harsh regulatory climate, meaning that Charter’s deal as well as AT&T’s deal for DirecTV are both far from sure things. None the less, this may not be the end of cable merger mania, with James Dolan’s Cablevision at the center of several merger rumors as well.