Time Warner Cable CEO: Comcast Deal Is a ‘Dream Combination’

Rob Marcus, Time Warner Cable
Courtesy of Time Warner Cable

Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus, a lame duck with Comcast’s pending $45.2 billion takeover of the No. 2 cable operator, called the proposed merger a “dream combination” that will accelerate innovation and efficiency of the combined company.

Marcus, who took TW Cable’s top job in January, said he remains focused on running the business while also working with Comcast to obtain regulatory approvals for the deal from the FCC, Department of Justice and local authorities.

“Look, I have every confidence that this deal is going to close. The logic of the deal is so compelling. I really don’t see anything undermining that,” he said, speaking at Deutsche Bank’s Media, Internet and Telecom Conference. Marcus said the companies are aiming to close the deal by year-end.

While Marcus sees the combo as a “dream,” consumer activists and others see it as a looming nightmare. Others in the industry, including DirecTV CEO Mike White and 21st Century Fox president Chase Carey, have expressed concerns of the concentrated power of the resulting company, particularly in broadband.

Analysts estimate Comcast-TW Cable would control about one-third of the U.S. broadband market. “Are you really headed to every home having simply one broadband provider — and what are the implications of that?” Carey said, speaking at the Deutsche Bank confab Tuesday.

SEE ALSO: D.C. Critics Blast Comcast’s Plans to Merge With Time Warner Cable

One outspoken critic has been Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who this week again blasted the proposal as a bad deal for consumers. “I think consumers will end up paying more, there will be less competition, there will be less innovation and, worse, even worse service,” Franken said on “CBS This Morning.”

Marcus, at the Deutsche Bank conference, reiterated the position that Comcast and TW Cable do not compete against each other in any markets. “There is no reduction of competition at all,” he said.

As for concerns from TV programmers that Comcast-TW Cable will create a behemoth with undue buying power, Marcus said, “I find that whole line to be totally ironic given the experience we’ve all had over the last dozen years, where (programming) costs have risen faster than the cost customers will bear.”

For now, Time Warner Cable is proceeding with business as usual — and that means more rate hikes in 2014, according to Marcus. He declined to provide an average rate increase, saying different customers will get different rate increases depending on their service bundles.

But he said TW Cable is moving to a more “customer friendly” approach to implementing cost increases: Whereas triple-play customers could see three different rate hikes at different times of the year for video, broadband and voice, the MSO will now raise a customer’s bill once per year. “It’s more customer friendly, and it’s easier for us to manage,” Marcus maintained.

Marcus touted improvements in churn for the first two months of 2014 compared with past years, but Time Warner Cable is still losing customers. In January and February, the operator had a 5% year-over-year increase in customer connects, but disconnects were in the “double digits,” he said. The operator shed 833,000 video subscribers in 2013, including a record net loss of 306,000 during the third quarter fueled by a monthlong blackout of CBS amid a standoff over carriage terms.

In January, Charter Communications, with the backing of John Malone’s Liberty Media, had launched a takeover bid for TW Cable before Comcast stepped in. Marcus, in explaining why Time Warner Cable opted for the Comcast merger, said that “relative to any other alternative, we felt this maximized value.”

Comcast expects to achieve $1.5 billion in cost savings through the Time Warner Cable acquisition. Marcus said the “revenue upside is even greater than on the cost side,” particularly in the business services market, where the combined company can compete on a more national basis.

“I’m trying to stay focused as if we hadn’t announced the deal,” Marcus said. “The team is committed to knocking the ball out of the park this year.”

SEE ALSO: Comcast Touts TW Cable Deal as Expanding Low-Cost Broadband Program

Marcus, previously the operator’s president and COO, was named chairman and CEO of TW Cable last July and assumed the role in January. He replaced Glenn Britt, who retired at the end of 2013.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 12

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Joe says:

    The fact of the matter is that if anyone invested in either TWC or Comcast in the five years between the bottom and now, they’d four to five times as much money, not including dividends. These companies have both outpaced the market, it’s time that we asked whether that focus on short-term profits is altogether healthy, and in particular, why internet service isn’t treated as a utility in terms of pricing regulation.

  2. Rick says:

    Apparently “CEO Rob Marcus” thinks his illustrious comments were going to stay inside the business/investor bubble, fully embraced by those who stand to gain by holding significant stock in his company never seeing the light of day as far as his customers were concerned (after all, those who hold significant stock in the company would benefit from the hikes at the expense of the customers).

    Why not just tell your customers to sign their entire paychecks over to TWC, just dispense with the notion your trying to provide a service at a fair price and just take everything they got….. Imagine the increase in stock price….. My, My My…….

  3. virgilcole says:

    “Time Warner Cable is raising your monthly rate again”

    Not mine. Since I’m not a subscriber anymore. I got off that teet a long time ago.

  4. donnie says:

    Raise them rates! Keep on going until we all cut the cable!

    • dskk says:

      You realize they are an internet provider as well, right? You can cut the cable cord but you’re still going to need internet..

      • virgilcole says:

        YOU realize that there are other internet providers besides Time Warner Cable, right?

        I’m typing this reply over the internet right now, and I’m not a subscriber to TWC.

  5. Vic WAR says:

    Amazing I have all these cable channels and they just keep playing same old crap and what is more amazing I keep paying for crap!

  6. Bubba says:

    “But he said TW Cable is moving to a more “customer friendly” approach to implementing cost increase” – I just got my wonderful notification of rates increases and they are anything BUT “customer friendly”. It’s my reward for being a loyal customer. I will start looking for alternative providers. Adios Time Warner or Comcast or whatever you plan to call yourself in the future.

    • walter says:

      My daughter has comcast in the northeast. She swears they are absolutely the worst cable and internet provider you will ever encounter. She swears TWC is a jewel compared to comcast. I am already looking at satellite providers. Adios TWC.

  7. Steve says:

    Why anyone pays for cable and a land line anymore blows my mind.

  8. Shelly says:

    are you freakin kidding me?? who is he trying to kid? we are customers and have all three, cable -t.v. and internet and we have NEVER had SINGLE rate increases..they have ALWAYS been all at once, but nice try and my hubby and I will be future ex cable customers soon, the rate increases have been astronomical over the years and it’s high time they STOP completely for a few years!!!! remember folks, people CAN get along without t.v. and will if they have to…

More Biz News from Variety