Monopoly? What monopoly? At least that's one of the pillars of the 180-page document Comcast just filed with regulators in defense of its pending $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable. It is a big fat load of bull.
Comcast executive vice president David Cohen claims that Comcast and TWC only compete in one small area, and that the market is otherwise full of competition from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and pretty much any other big-name tech company you could think of. Sure, they might overlap in some areas, but the problem is, these "competitors" are not competitors at all.
The traditional boundaries between media, communications, and technology are obsolete. The competitive ecosystem in which we operate includes companies with national and even global– scale like AT&T, Verizon, DirecTV, DISH, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook – who are competing with each other and us in unprecedented ways. As the graphs below demonstrate, many of these companies are far larger than our combined company would be in market capitalization, annual revenues, and/or customers.
Comcast says, but hey look at these massive market caps from our competitors:
See? We're the underdog, even when combined with another cable fatcat, says Comcast. It argues again and again, this merger is good for you, humble consumer, making the case that the merger will give you faster internet, more options, a better network overall, and more on-demand options. That might happen, sure. But this one big piece about the market being full of competition is straight-up crap. On the high-speed internet front, Comcast makes the case that Google Fiber exists, and yes, it certainly does and it's expanding. But not in all of the cities TWC and Comcast touch. That is years and years away, if that. Moreover, it's also worth asking the question of what happens when Comcast is no longer legally bound to Net Neutrality laws. There are too many unknowns.
Comcast says it sees these players as direct competitors for content delivery. That's hard to believe. Google Fiber, Verizon Fios, AT&T Uverse might at the very least dabble in the same areas but the percentage of their business actually devoted to direct competition is quite small. As is their overall footprint. Comcast cites Netflix's 33 million and counting consumers. But it fails to mention that if they're subscribing to Netflix, well, they probably pay for internet too. Alternatively, the same would go for someone who owned an Apple TV box, or Amazon Fire TV, or whatever streaming service. There are many disconnects in this extensive Comcast defense.
The merger has been decried for a number of reasons. Take your pick of which one. In this case, the creation of a massive cable company monopoly is a very big lingering issue, and a very troubling one. But Comcast's shoddy defense is not doing anything to put that concern to bed. [Comcast]