Who owns the digital pipelines?

Charter Time Warner Cable Bright House Networks mergerThe defections continue from pricey U.S. cable TV bundles to internet-based TV. As the cable/broadband industry consolidates, three major players — Comcast, Charter (merged with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks) and AT&T — control most of America’s digital pipelines. Broadband internet subscriptions from these companies are holding their own.

Subscribers to U.S. video and internet services (Q2 2018 or as noted)


Company Digital TV Internet
COMCAST 21,074,000 24,440,000 Q2-2018 company reports: Household video subs decreased by 136K in Q3; high-speed internet added 260K subs; total 10,213,000 voice customers
CHARTER  17,300,000 19,400,000 Q1-2018 reports: Household video subs fell by 112K; high-speed internet subs grew 331K; total 10,375,000 telephone subs. (Merger of Charter, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks closed in 2016)
ATT (includes DIRECTV) 25,200,000 14,400,000 Q3 reports: DirecTV lost 359K subs, online DirecTV Now added 342K, ATT WatchTV launched; 76K added household internet; 54,700,000 consumer wireless customers. Merger with Time Warner closed 2018;
VERIZON FIOS 4,560,000 5,959,000 Q2-2018 reports: 116,500,000 wireless customers; acquired AOL and Yahoo!, renamed Oath
COX 4,500,000 6,000,000 estimates
ALTICE approx 4,600,000 approx 4,600,000 approx 4,600,000 voice customers. Acquired Suddenlink (2015) and Cablevision (2016)
DISH 13,150,000  595,000 Q1 2018 reports: Includes 2.3 million Sling TV subscribers.

Broadcast TV’s leaky basement

Recent court rulings have upheld the rights of Hopper (Dish Network’s ad skipping tool) and Aereo (feeding broadcast TV channels to your home via internet) to continue their digital challenges to the broadcast TV business model, as recounted by David Carr in his July 29 Media Equation column. aereo_antenna_array1a These upstart services threaten TV advertising and retransmission license fees, respectively, representing worrisome leaks in the basement of the broadcast TV business model. Studies on ad-skipping have shown its appeal. Time-Warner Cable exploited Aereo threat as a bargaining chip in its contentious carriage negotiation with CBS this summer. Though largely unknown to the public, you have to wonder how quickly these digital disruptions could catch on once consumers take notice.