Shares of Time Warner Cable rose noticeably in early trading Tuesday in the wake of an announcement that the New York company had agreed to be purchased by Charter Communications in a deal that makes the smaller company, controlled by media executive John Malone, a more substantial rival to Comcast Corp.
Shares in Time Warner Cable rose $7.42, or 4.33%, in earlier trading, to $178.60 on volume of about 7.94 million. Average daily volume is 4.74 million.
Meanwhile, shares of Charter dipped slightly, falling 24 cents a share, or .14%, to $175.09 on volume of about 4.52 million. Average daily volume is 1.5 million.
The deal, like a scuttled one by Comcast to acquire Time Warner Cable that was prepared and debated over much of 2014 and this year, raises the stakes in the media sector, where distribution of content has become as important as the TV shows and streaming-video vignettes that occupy so much of the nation’s free time.
A combined Charter and Time Warner Cable would also control subscribers served by Bright House Networks, a cable operation that Time Warner Cable has long managed. The pact will likely draw scrutiny from content producers like Discovery Communications, Scripps Networks Interactive, CBS Corp. and others who would find themselves negotiating for carriage with a larger entity that serves up video to 23.9 million subscribers in 41 states, most importantly New York City and Los Angeles. CBS and Time Warner Cable slugged it out in a protracted carriage dispute in 2013.
Charter’s bid could also create the impression that other companies need to merge or combine to gain the scale necessary to operate in a market with such entities as Comcast and the new combination with Time Warner Cable. Even so, shares of Cablevision, the company that serves subscribers around New York City, rose only 62 cents a share, or 2.48%, to $25.60 a share on volume of 1.79 million. Average daily volume is 5.67 million.
Other companies that may be wary of the proposed merger are those that distribute broadband service to consumers. Shares of both AT&T and Verizon fell slightly in early Tuesday trading. AT&T stock was off 24 cents a share, or .71%, to $34.46 a share on volume of 2.73 million. Average volume is 32.33 million. The telecommunications company is in the midst of working thorough a proposal to buy DirecTV. Shares of Verizon, meanwhile, fell 32 cents a share, or .65%, to $49.29 a share on volume of 1.36 million. Average volume is 15.33 million.