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Comcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration Complete

Comcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration Complete

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
Comcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration Complete
Comcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration Complete Leonard Grace (270 Posts)

Founder of Broadband Convergent, a Broadband-Mobile-Cable-Wireless-Telecom market website focused on highlighting industry news and strategic issues within technology arenas. Highly researched and experienced insights and trends both inform and enlighten readers on current industry convergence of Broadband-Cable-Mobile-Wireless and Telecom Sectors.

Comcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration CompleteComcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration CompleteComcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration CompleteComcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration CompleteComcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration CompleteComcast’s Final NBCU Stake: Vertical Integration Complete