Comcast, the largest cable television provider in the country, has agreed to acquire Time Warner Cable, the country’s second-largest cable provider, in an all-stock deal worth over $45 billion.
If approved by government regulators, the acquisition would give Comcast a healthy portfolio of over 33 million cable television customers across the U.S., many in metropolitan areas. Currently, Time Warner Cable has about one-third that number, and it was losing subscribers according to its last earnings report.
The move would also give Comcast several regional cable news stations owned by Time Warner Cable, including New York City-based news channel NY1 (channels like CNN, which are owned by Time Warner, would not be part of the deal; Time Warner and Time Warner Cable are separate companies).
Months ago, Charter Communications had offered about $133 a share for the acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The company declined, holding out for an offer of $160 a share, which it said was “reflective of where an asset of its size and scope should trade in a deal,” CNBC reported.
Time Warner Cable agreed to $159 per share from Comcast.
Comcast, already the largest cable company in the country, would have one-quarter of the country’s cable TV subscribers if the acquisition goes through. The second-largest cable TV company would then be Cox Communications, which is thought to have around six million subscribers (as a private company, Cox does not regularly disclose revenue or subscriber information), followed by AT&T U-Verse with 5.5 million TV subscribers and Verizon FiOS with 5.3 million subscribers.
Some have already voiced opposition to the acquisition. The public interest group Free Press issued a condemnation late Wednesday evening, calling the then-proposed deal a “disaster for consumers.”
“In an already uncompetitive market with high prices that keep going up and up, a merger of the two biggest cable companies should be unthinkable,” Free Press president Craig Aaron told CNN’s Brian Stelter.
Mergers and acquisitions have been one key component in Comcast’s ability to grow its subscriber base over the years. Comcast purchased AT&T Broadband for $60 billion in 2003 only a few years after AT&T had acquired TCI, then the largest cable company in the country. In 1999, the company purchased Greater Philadelphia Cablevision in its home city for around $270 million in stock, giving it nearly three-quarters of the city’s cable TV subscribers at the time.