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Netflix has nothing to say about America’s latest big cable merger

Reed Hastings Netflix Charter Time Warner Cable
AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
Silent for now.
By John McDuling
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Two big American cable companies, Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable, want to merge… and  no-one is particularly worked up about it.

Certainly not Comcast, the cable giant which was recently blocked by the US government from buying Time Warner Cable itself.  ”This deal makes all the sense in the world,” Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts said in a rather sunny emailed statement. “I would like to congratulate all the parties.”

And not Netflix, either. Recall that the streaming video service was one of the fiercest opponents of the  proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable tie-up. Its vociferous opposition was, arguably, a key factor in regulators ultimately opposing the deal.

But asked by Quartz whether Netflix had any position on Charter’s merger with Time Warner Cable, a spokesperson said, “We don’t have a comment on this deal at this time.” Perhaps it is weighing its options. More likely, since the deal was widely expected and details have been filtering out over the past week, it just isn’t that concerned.

In a sense this is interesting, because Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable actually fare slightly worse on Netflix’s ranking of broadband providers by speed than Comcast does. The two companies say their prposed combination will “drive investment into the combined entity’s advanced broadband network” which will ultimately result in result in “faster broadband speeds, better video products…and more competition,” but Comcast said the same type of thing.

At any rate, the the big concern of Netflix, and pretty much all opponents of Comcast buying Time Warner Cable, was that combining the biggest and second biggest cable companies in the US would leave one company with too much power over the broadband market. Comcast itself admitted back in January that, under the Federal Communications Commission’s new definition for high-speed internet services, it already controls more than half of the US broadband market.

It’s safe to assume the new Charter-Time Warner Cable combo won’t have that problem. Good data on US broadband market share is painfully hard to come by, but according to the research firm SNL Kagan (which uses a different definition for high speed internet than the FCC), a combined Charter and Time Warner Cable will still have fewer customers than Comcast.

Perhaps that explains the marked lack of hysteria greeting today’s announced matchup. Instead, the reaction seems to be: Meh.

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