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Comcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration Complete

BROADBAND CONVERGENT - Business News Broadband-Mobile-Cable-Telecom Markets

NBC-Universal-Comcast (NBC Building Sign)

Comcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration CompleteComcast’s acquired the final stake in NBCU creating a vertical integration of both content and delivery of news and entertainment to U.S. consumers. Divestiture as a remedy should be viewed as a real possibility for Comcast now as its market power moves to dominate competitors. Although Wall Street analysts gave this deal a “thumbs up”, they continue to deny the overlying impact of how market dynamics will change as a result.

Inherently, the deal puts Comcast on a vertically integrated path of controlling both content and delivery of consumer news and entertainment. That should trigger a tipping point of more scrutiny from regulators as the giant moves to eliminate competition by gaining more control of external costs and distribution metrics.

Cable TV and/or Broadband Divestiture Seems Reasonable

It should be reasonable that with market domination of broadband, cable TV and content within the U.S., creating a clear business advantage, might inevitably raise more questions about the giant’s intentions toward competitors. Controlling those three markets, distinctly integrated with one another vertically, can only be construed as dangerous to consumer interests, as well as future market competition. Therefore U.S. regulators must take a harder look at how this recent transaction can benefit the public. Divesting is an answer that seems reasonable for Comcast whether it be its Cable TV Business or Broadband holdings.

Prevention of Monopoly

“There are times when companies are compelled to divest because of legal issues. In order to maintain fair trade and prevent monopolistic practices, anti-trust commissions in various countries mandate divestment. In the United States, the government agency responsible for determining if a company needs to sell or release its non-core asset is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).” Read more: http://www.finweb.com/investing/6-reasons-to-divest.html#ixzz2Ku7dKf3p

 
Comcast Subscriber Metrics        

Customers

Net Adds

(in thousands)    

YE11

   

YE12

   

4Q11

   

4Q12

   

2011

     

2012

 
Video Customers    

22,331

   

21,995

   

(17

)    

(7

)    

(459

)    

(336

)
High-Speed Internet Customers    

18,144

   

19,367

   

336

     

341

     

1,159

     

1,223

 
Voice Customers    

9,342

   

9,955

   

146

     

168

     

732

     

613

 
Combined Video, HSI and Voice Customers

49,817

   

51,317

465

   

503

   

1,432

   

1,500

See (Comcast Reports 4th Quarter and Year-End 2012 Results)

By far Comcast has more triple play subscribers than any of its cable counterparts. Direct TV and Dish Network are primarily video distributors lacking the vertical integration to compete effectively with a Comcast. Let us not make a mistake of believing there is not a clear market advantage. Clearly, having large content reserves, a mega distribution pipeline for broadband and cable TV is a disadvantage for any competitor.

Top 25 Multi-channel Video Distributors September 2012

Rank

MSO

BasicVideoSubscribers

1

Comcast Corporation

22,002,000

2

DirecTV

19,981,000

3

Dish Network Corporation

14,042,000

4

Time Warner Cable, Inc.

12,344,000

5

Cox Communications, Inc.1

4,595,000

6

Verizon Communications, Inc.

4,592,000

7

AT&T, Inc.

4,344,000

 

A Lack of Competition

This multi-channel video distributor list in the U.S. indicates the divide in sheer video customer domination. Although Satellite DBS customers are most closely aligned with Comcast numbers, there is a lack of overlap in various markets. Understandably, consumers are not left with clear choices in every market, nor are those consumers advantaged with a DBS delivered broadband competitor in most markets.

As can be seen in this chart the potential competitors of Comcast via both Verizon and AT&T, have long ago began to discontinue their direct competition efforts due to the inherent costs of building new infrastructure. Although Google Fiber and FreedomPoP have made insignificant in-roads in a few markets, the majority of content, broadband, and video distributors remains non-existent. The true danger here is the scope of a Comcast vertically integrated control of such a large market area. The advantage is clear in that controlling both internal and external costs and distribution metrics represents and unfair market distinction.

Image via CNNMoney

Comcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration Complete

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Leonard Grace is the founder of Broadband Convergent, an industry leader tech news and analysis for Broadband, Cable, Mobile, Wireless, and Telecom markets providing strategic direction, business trending, sprinkled with lots of opinion. Technology executives must focus on key business indicators with fast, effective and researched analytics to provide leading edge decisions that propel their organizations ahead of the competition. Broadband Convergent researches the latest trends, strategy, and analysis to deliver the results executives and managers depend on to make strategic business decisions. Whether it is (to-market-strategy), the latest competitive advantage, leading edge technology or legislative updates; Broadband Convergent is on top of intelligence gathering and reporting to make industry leaders comfortable with making decisions based on our findings. Our company is a leader in providing fast, efficient, and economical insights into competitive markets, business strategies, market trends and the future outlook of the legislative landscape. Leonard has produced 250+ highly researched articles providing a unique perspective on current Broadband issues including Cable, Mobile, Wireless and Telecom sectors. His insights dig down to find the why’s and why-not’s of industry decisions and how those effect the commerce of broadband.