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Offbeat AT&T-Time Warner Green Light Means More Big Cable Bundles

17:10  13 june  2018
17:10  13 june  2018 Source:   online.wsj.com

AT&T, Justice Department await nail-biter of a court decision

  AT&T, Justice Department await nail-biter of a court decision <p>A federal judge will decide next week whether AT&amp;T, which owns DirecTV, will be allowed to buy Time Warner, home to CNN and March Madness basketball, for $85 billion.</p>Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia oversaw a six-week trial where the government argued the deal was illegal because it would give AT&T the power to withhold HBO and Turner channels from DirecTV's smaller pay TV rivals and cheaper online competitors.

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It's time for AT & T vs. Charter vs. Time Warner Cable in Dallas: Which looks the best in this big Texan market? Read on to see how they compare against Add in bundles , and things get a lot more complicated.

In the future, you will pay lots of money for lots of entertainment options.

Sound like what you’ve already got—a bundle of cable channels, voice service and internet access? The merger of AT&T and Time Warner, approved Tuesday by a judge after a long delay, is more proof that this reality will endure.

We’ve been headed in this direction for years, as AT&T acquired DirecTV, and fellow telecom giants Comcast and Verizon each beefed up on content and moved into each other’s turfs.

What the AT&T-Time Warner decision will mean for media

  What the AT&T-Time Warner decision will mean for media It's the first time in over 40 years the U.S. has sued to stop this type of merger—and media giants are watching to see their futureHere's what you need to know.

That’s especially true since carriage rates and cable packages have grown more expensive — a main driving force behind the move to “skinny” bundles . “This is a BIG deal for ( AT & T ) (maybe too big ),” Ryvicker wrote. Also, given Time Warner ’s already substantial debt load and the fact that AT & T

Time Warner Cable is now called Spectrum. Call Spectrum at (855) 650-4212. Shoppers who are more interested in price than anything else should consider the bundled packages available from AT & T . Most AT & T bundles are somewhere between and less than comparable TWC

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Tech companies, meanwhile, have done a fair job of destabilizing the existing players. Netflix, Amazon and Google’s YouTube have redefined the TV show, while the smartphones and set-top boxes powered by Apple and its competitors have changed our viewing habits. Everything is on demand, everywhere.

But the entertainment companies, which still control the most popular brands and content, saw what happened when Apple took over the music business. So they sought refuge with big media conglomerates. This battle with tech companies was Time Warner’s primary argument in favor of its acquisition by AT&T. As a result, Steve Jobs’s famous deathbed promise to reinvent broadcast TV hasn’t happened. For now, at least, the internet will not be disrupting the bundle.

AT&T wins U.S. court approval to buy Time Warner for $85 billion

  AT&T wins U.S. court approval to buy Time Warner for $85 billion AT&amp;T Inc won approval from a U.S. court on Tuesday to buy Time Warner Inc for $85 billion, allowing AT&amp;T to compete with internet companies that dominate digital advertising and providing new sources of revenue. The planned deal is seen as a turning point for a media industry that has been upended by companies like Netflix Inc and Google which produce content and sell it online directly to consumers, without requiring a pricey cable subscription. Distributors including cable, satellite and wireless carriers all see buying content companies as a way to add revenue.

The Justice Department reviewed NBC Universal and Comcast, the vertical merger most similar to AT & T and Time Warner . It’s what experts say makes Stephenson’s and Bewkes’ job of convincing regulators to approve the merger a lot easier.

AT & T and Time Warner still need a green light from the government. On their own, neither had the high-speed broadband and TV assets needed to compete with the bundles offered by dominant cable companies, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

The Justice Department’s chief antitrust lawyer argued that this merger would “greatly harm” consumers with “higher bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options.” It’s not clear that it will, as U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled. But the deal also will mean more of the same: bigger—not cheaper—packages of entertainment rather than the a la carte, pay-as-you-go custom content that many customers have long desired.

The classic triple play—call it the boomer bundle—included many TV channels, broadband internet and a landline.

With the rise of streaming, bundles were thought to be on the way out, making way for extremely personalized offerings: You pick your internet provider, your phone carrier and the assorted video sources you like, be they channel apps like HBO Go, low-cost libraries of content like Hulu or Netflix, or full lineups from Comcast’s Xfinity or AT&T’s DirecTV.

Now that AT&T has been cleared to buy Time Warner, here's what happens next

  Now that AT&T has been cleared to buy Time Warner, here's what happens next <p>On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that AT&amp;T could buy Time Warner with no conditions attached, denying a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust challenge to the deal.</p>The DOJ could still appeal, but assuming it doesn't, here's what happens next.

In the face of bigger bundles or higher prices at Sling, some consumers would probably switch to a “It doesn' t take much of a shift to change Sling's future.” Attorneys for AT & T and Time Warner were “Just because they purchase them doesn' t mean they can just show them to anybody,” Leon said of

While the deal is seen as similar to Comcast’s approved purchase of NBCUniversal, Comcast’s later bid for Time Warner Cable “It’s hard to see what the big value proposition of AT & T and Time Warner is here if it’s not somehow to extract more out of this bundle and effectively lessen competition.”

Emilia Clarke et al. walking down the street © Keith Bernstein/Associated Press Now the big bundle looks set for a comeback. Not only is AT&T about to get Time Warner, which includes HBO, CNN, the rest of the Turner channels and the Warner Bros. movie studio, but Comcast, already owner of NBCUniversal, is likely to pursue 21st Century Fox, sucking up yet more content. (21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal-parent News Corp share common ownership.)

Internet service providers will have the opportunity to offer content produced by their entertainment divisions free to customers, or as part of competitively priced packages. (When streaming content is offered free, it is known as “zero rating.”) With the end of net neutrality—which would have kept the internet’s gatekeepers from abusing their power to charge other companies for carrying their data—telecom giants are more likely to aggressively pair their offerings with free content. And as usual, they’ll license content to one another.

The biggest difference between the aforementioned boomer bundle and this new millennial one is that you can access content through more devices, in more ways.

Now that AT&T has been cleared to buy Time Warner, here's what happens next

  Now that AT&T has been cleared to buy Time Warner, here's what happens next <p>On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that AT&amp;T could buy Time Warner with no conditions attached, denying a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust challenge to the deal.</p>The DOJ could still appeal, but assuming it doesn't, here's what happens next.

By buying Time Warner , AT & T might effectively subsidize the cost of a more robust streaming package. AT & T could push things further by packaging this streaming bundle with its mobile service, offering its skinny bundle at a discount to anyone who uses AT & T as their mobile carrier.

Cable providers like Time Warner Cable are not the primary cause of soaring cable bills. So, while many cable providers have vocally opposed excessive bundling , they have not taken much concrete action to stop it. However, doing this would mean conceding sports fans to other pay-TV competitors.

Wireless is already becoming a much bigger part of entertainment delivery, and wireless providers will include more content as part of their unlimited service plans. Meanwhile, as next-generation 5G networks become a thing, companies such as Comcast will offer wireless service.

Competition among wireless carriers—especially pressure from T-Mobile—has helped to drive down the cost of wireless plans. Content deals will probably mean internet service providers will encourage people to opt for the premium end of their menus. (Verizon may need a studio of its own; content from AOL and Yahoo can’t compete with the output of HBO and Fox.)

Standing apart from these vertically integrated entertainment/internet megacorps, Netflix is, ironically, the new HBO: the one service everyone has to offer, or at least not throttle, even if they legally can.

Netflix’s strength is its original programming, the same differentiator that’s helped HBO weather the changing cable landscape. Sure enough, in April, Comcast announced it would start including Netflix in some cable bundles.

Like Comcast, Disney has its eye on Fox: Whichever company gets Fox ends up with a majority ownership of Hulu, a popular digital property in its own right. In other ways, Disney finds itself in a similar position to Netflix. Disney intends to launch a family-friendly streaming service, and it already has the stand-alone ESPN+ internet offering.

Is Comcast-Fox a done deal after AT&T-Time Warner win?

  Is Comcast-Fox a done deal after AT&T-Time Warner win? Comcast will likely bid for Fox's entertainment business as early as Wednesday now that a federal judge has cleared AT&amp;T's $85 billion takeover of Time Warner. If Comcast succeeds in outbidding Disney for Fox, a major cable distributor would control even more channels on its lineup and those of its rivals. There are fears that it could lead to higher cable bills or hinder online alternatives.But U.S. District Judge Richard Leon cleared the AT&T deal Tuesday despite similar concerns.

But, as with most mergers, there's no widespread agreement on what a mashup of AT & T and Time Warner would mean . I wouldn' t mind discounts or content bundles with my carrier plan for things I already use such as HBO Now." That's one of the biggest selling points of this merger, at least from a

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If you thought a tech columnist was going to say that, eventually, a full range of name-brand choices—from sports to late night to sitcoms to drama—will come from Apple, Google, Amazon and/or Facebook, you thought wrong. It’s not going to happen.

These megamergers will probably further stymie the efforts of Apple and Google to disrupt the video market with set-top boxes and content deals. Both companies have deep pockets, but it’s hard to have leverage over competitors and consumers when your set-top boxes are nearly interchangeable and you don’t own an HBO or an ESPN. YouTube, Apple, and now even Facebook are fighting back with original and exclusive content, but in a world where there are nearly 500 scripted shows already, these nascent efforts have difficulty gaining traction.

The tech giant least likely to break stride is, as ever, Amazon. The company seems to view its video offerings primarily as a way to keep customers coming back to that other bundle so many of us have succumbed to: Prime.

In the old days, we paid for hundreds of channels and watched only a few. In the future, we’ll pay for thousands, from a similar handful of providers. We’ll just cherry-pick our entertainment using more sophisticated tools, and enjoy it anywhere, not just on the couch. Here’s to…progress?

Write to Christopher Mims at christopher.mims@wsj.com 

AT&T plans to give free TV to its wireless customers .
AT&amp;T will be launching a "very, very skinny bundle" of television programming free to its mobile customers, says CEO Randall Stephenson."We will be launching, and you're going to hear more about this next week, a product called 'AT&T Watch TV,'" Stephenson said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "It will be the Turner content. It will not have sports. It'll be entertainment-centered.

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