Breakingviews

Charter deal may not be final word on Bright House

March 31, 2015

The $10.4 bln acquisition, contingent on Comcast buying Time Warner Cable, suggests some confidence those rivals will get approval. If not, however, the U.S. cable puzzle could realign. Charter again might chase Time Warner Cable, which actually has first dibs on Bright House.

Netflix stock horror follows familiar script

October 16, 2014

The film and TV streaming service lost $7 billion of market value after it signed up fewer new subscribers than expected. Even for one of the most-shorted and volatile stocks, a 25 percent decline is notable. And yet investors have seen this movie many times before.

Anarchical Vice Media makes orthodoxy a virtue

September 5, 2014

The bad boy of news and entertainment is now worth $2.5 bln. Unlike some Silicon Valley upstarts, though, Vice sold more than a sliver of itself and raised real money: $500 mln. Disney, Hearst and Fox are among its backers. For all the iconoclasm, there are old-school traits.

TV broadcasters missing big picture in Aereo fight

August 29, 2014

CBS, Disney and others oppose the Barry Diller-backed streaming startup’s rebirth as a cable firm. But conceding could put online services and, say, Time Warner Cable on equal legal footing and create more competition for content. That’s a win for viewers and networks alike.

Comcast deal machine spits out a value destroyer

February 13, 2014

The return on investment from the $70 bln purchase of Time Warner Cable looks to be 1 percentage point lower than the buyer’s cost of capital. That’s crummy but not criminal. It’s also not too surprising. The Roberts family uses medieval governance to oversee the Comcast fiefdom.

Comcast gives deal junkies lots to watch on cable

February 13, 2014

The biggest U.S. operator has agreed to buy rival Time Warner Cable for $45 bln in stock, interrupting a hostile takeover by smaller Charter. The target got the price it wanted but not the terms. Regulatory risks are high. And all eyes will still be on the crafty John Malone.

Time Warner Cable’s deal control looks more remote

February 10, 2014

Hostile suitor Charter may propose a full slate of replacement directors. Roping in Comcast also could alleviate some financial worries about the $60 bln takeover plan. Charter boss Tom Rutledge is proving adept at methodically marshaling forces against his former employer.

HBO gives Netflix investors a grim sneak preview

February 5, 2014

Time Warner disclosed financial details of the pay-TV network behind “Girls” for the first time, which imply it is worth about $17 bln. Netflix already trades at a 40 pct premium to its stronger, more mature rival. That suggests a need for heroic growth and profit assumptions.

TV industry technophobia is a bad 1980s rerun

November 20, 2013

U.S. broadcasters have won support from sports leagues in their bid to shut down online video startup Aereo. The doomsday arguments echo those used 30 years ago in an attempt to block the VCR, after which business boomed. For a creative trade, Big Media sure lacks imagination.

Comcast ad-libs on winning NBC Universal script

February 13, 2013

The U.S. cable operator engineered a multi-step deal with GE in 2009. Now, it smoothly has accelerated and tweaked the acquisition of the rest of NBC Universal for $16.7 bln. With the financial side sorted, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts must now prove he’s the right owner.