It's official: Confirming the leaks from last night, Comcast has announced it plans to acquire Time Warner Cable. This combination of the country's #1 and #2 cable companies will stretch from coast to coast, as TWC controls markets like New York City, LA and Texas, while Comcast strongholds include Philadelphia and Washington DC. TV isn't the only medium in play either, since as Gigaom points out, the two companies together cover not only 30 million+ cable TV subscribers, but also around the same number of internet connections and about 15 million phone lines. So, what's the likely impact for customers as a result of the deal? For several reasons the answer right away is "not much."
It will take time for the combo to gain regulatory approval from the FCC and Justice Department -- check after the break for Comcast's reasons (Apple, Google, Netflix and Hulu) why the FCC should approve it -- like like the lengthy acquisition process we saw when Comcast snatched up NBCUniversal a few years ago. Despite that, both parties expect the deal to close by the end of this year, although interestingly there's no "break up fee" if the deal does not go through for some reason, which came into play when AT&T tried to acquire T-Mobile. As part of the announcement, Comcast says it's "prepared to divest systems serving approximately 3 million managed subscribers," and expects to gain about 8 million net subscribers with the move. Comcast is still trying to roll out its new X1 TV platform including cloud DVR access, while Time Warner Cable brings its own setup, complete with StartOver and LookBack VOD features that let viewers go back in time without a DVR.