What’s Next Now That Charter-Time Warner Cable Merger Is Complete

Time Warner Cable Charter Communications
Courtesy of Time Warner Cable Charter Communications

There’s a new No. 2 in town. A year after Charter Communications clinched its agreement to acquire Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the complex $67.1 billion merger is now a done deal.

The three-way cable marriage makes Charter the nation’s second-largest cable operator behind Comcast, with about 17 million video subscribers and about 19 million broadband subscribers. Stamford, Conn.-based Charter ranks as the nation’s third-largest MVPD overall behind Comcast and DirecTV.

So after 12 months of shepherding the deal through the maze of federal approvals and financial engineering, what’s on the agenda for the enlarged Charter? The company, led by respected industry veteran Tom Rutledge with backing from John Malone’s Liberty Broadband, has outlined a few immediate priorities.

Upgrading the plant: Charter has vowed to refurbish Time Warner Cable’s aging infrastructure and ensure that its operations are all digital. TW Cable has already been in the midst of an all-digital upgrade plan. That effort will temporarily be halted while Charter execs get under the hood and determine the best approach for weeding out the last pockets of antiquated equipment in the TW Cable and Bright House Networks footprint. The process is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, Rutledge said during Charter’s May 1 quarterly earnings conference call. The assets are in better shape than we’d even planned for, which is a great relief,” Rutledge said.

Here comes Spectrum: The Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks brand names will be phased out in favor of unifying its consumer-facing brand under Charter’s existing Spectrum moniker. But TW Cable and Bright House customers won’t see changes on Day 1. The old names and logos will linger for a few months on the screen guides and billing documents while Charter readies its relaunch plan that will include streamlined pricing and packaging offers across the enlarged company.

In the Cloud: Charter in the past year has been slowly but steadily rolling out a cloud-based interactive channel guide across its existing subscribers. The user interface is designed to make it much easier for subscribers to navigate through VOD viewing options as well as channel listings and for Internet surfing for those using connected TVs. Charter has said feedback from the new-and-improved navigation system has been good in early markets such as Dallas-Fort Worth, Reno, Nevada and St. Louis.

Ending the Out-Sourcing: Charter has vowed to hire as many as 20,000 new employees in the U.S. post merger in an effort to dramatically improve its customer service. Rutledge has been adamant about the value of bringing its customer service operations back home to the U.S. with full-time employees, not contractors. He has done the math and determined that the improvements in customer interactions, troubleshooting, reduction in churn and ability to up-sell make it worth the investment.

Charter has added about 7,000 customer service jobs since Rutledge took over the cable operator in February 2012. TW Cable’s offshore call centers will be relocated to the U.S. “Even though our labor costs on a per-transaction basis are going up, our transaction reductions are exceeding that rate of increase in cost per transaction, and overall costs of running the business are going down,” Rutledge said. “That’s a very virtuous cycle.”

The post-merger Charter team has a number of big carriage agreements to sort through on the near-term horizon, including deals with Time Warner, 21st Century Fox, Disney and CBS Corp. TW Cable hasn’t done much in the way of long-term programming agreements for more than two years, ever since Comcast initiated its ill-fated attempt to acquire the company in February 2014.

Allan Singer, Charter’s senior VP of programming, is likely to be on the receiving end of a charm offensive from showbiz execs now that Charter’s profile and footprint has shot up. Singer has been with Charter since 2011. He signed on before Rutledge took over in February 2012.

Before Charter, Singer worked as exec VP of distribution and strategy for OWN. A lawyer by training, he previously held posts at Comcast in programming and sports business development.

The only senior exec from TW Cable who is slated to join the new Charter is Philip Meeks, who will serve as exec VP of business enterprise services. He’d been with TW Cable in the same post since 2013.

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  1. Well, both of these companies are working separately and both of them are competitors for each others even they both are covering local market of United States.

  2. cathy a zimmer says:

    hopefully this means we can get internet in our area without the 58000 price tag fingers crossed

  3. Jeff says:

    Anticipate email outages as we’ve experienced for one week now, after the switch over. Ostensibly because Spectrum/Charter, tech support says the email servers are being upgraded but that would take only one hour.

  4. Brian says:

    Here in my town time warner is the only cable company here . I called them the other day and wanted to know why I’m not getting charter spectrum rates yet. They told me that the acquisition could take several years and until then I am stuck with time warner rates. On top of that they are still pushing their high rate packages. This merger is nothing more than a lie.

  5. Bridget says:

    Ok well I know now that this company is not going to last long with all the bills going up!!! I know of at least 10 friends including myself that there bills have skyrocketed this is bull and I’m now thinking I’m switching companies!!!

  6. I would just like to see honesty in the Customer Service departments. They promise help, but help never comes. TWC still owes me $166.95 from 2008 when I closed my old account and overpaid. I tried for several months when I had to use TWC again, (no other option) to get a refund. Many promises made to either credit my account or send me a refund. Nothing happened. i have to consider that money lost in TWC’s subterranean departments.

  7. Mike says:

    Great, I’m already imagining the headaches that are in store, i.e. with their so called “package deals”, their program line-up, prices. The perfect reason to become a cord cutter.

  8. Kutty kesav says:

    now that the merger is said to have completed, will the TWC costomers be able to watch the USA and POP channels in real time. TWC broadcast these channel contents after THREE hrs they are aired !!!.

  9. T Clark says:

    Nice. Two crappy cable companies merge. Should of called the new company RECTUM instead of Spectrum.

  10. Jnis Dickens says:

    My question is are you going to raise prices every year, I am on a fixed income and TWC rates go up my income does not, I am also a Senior citizen and they do not offer any thing for seniors or disabled. I called yesterday to asked what I would pay if I did away with cable and kept my phone and internet, they didnt give me a deal of any kind and do they care not at all

  11. It would be great if they would fix the problems I’ve been experiencing for over 6 years. My modem goes on and off, destroyed one computer and is destroying my current computer – it also means that I don’t get to use the phone whenever I want – it too dies – sometimes for days at a time. And they are billing me for a better cable box so the tv works, which it does most of the time, but not always, when its their fault their regular cable box & modem don’t work right. They were supposed to replace the wiring from the street to the tap last year – never did it! So sick of Time Warner.

  12. Wendy Peek says:

    I sure hope they revamp TW tired channel lineup because it sucks!

  13. What’s next? They just bought up a competitor in markets they hold a monopoly in, raising rates of course.

  14. carlos walls says:

    I just recently went back to Time Warner before the merger.This is the third month,they’ve increased my bill from a couple to over a dollar this month.They tell you the consumer its’ new york taxes,but I’m ready to drop them once and for all.None of these distributor’s are worth the money.

  15. IT--II--IT says:

    What’s that 100% INTEL RUN globalist mafia borg up to now ?

  16. rictorres2 says:

    Cynthia, How does the deal affect Dodger games coming to LA for Vin’s last season? That’s a huge issue for LA peeps. Please update the article.

    • JoeMcG says:

      Keep up… Charter announced months ago that they would be carrying the Dodger channel… a little peace offering to help grease the wheels of the merger. This dramatically increases the LA area footprint for those who weren’t in a TW territory. Of course, those of us on DirecTV are still in the dark, but quite frankly, I don’t want to be forced into paying for it if I don’t want it. Personally, the best way to build a fan base for the new generation is to keep games on regular over-the-air TV. Making your product accessible is what builds a fan base, not locking it up into some pay-per-view exclusive club… that may be a short-term win, but a long term loss.

      • Joe Santos says:

        Easy with the “keep up.”

        When Comcast almost bought TWC, the prevailing wisdom was that TWC would take a write-down for the bad SPORTSNET LA deal before purchase, and Comcast would be able to offer the channel to all companies at a much more acceptable rate. So the purchase by Charter COULD have a similar impact.

        It’s a good question.

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