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Charter Cable in Talks to Acquire Bright House Networks in an All-Stock Deal; Deal May Still Fall Apart, Source Says

charterCharter Communications is in talks with Si Newhouse, Jr., the billionaire owner of Bright House Networks, to acquire the cable operator in an all-stock deal that could be worth over $12 billion, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

Bright House Networks serves 2.5 million customers, primarily in central Florida but also in parts of Alabama, Indiana, California and Michigan. Bright House has been closely controlled by the Newhouse family and has avoided efforts to consolidate the cable industry for more than two decades.

The deal is not yet finalized, according to two people asking not to be identified discussing confidential details of the deal. A side dispute over who will control voting shares of Charter after any acquisition remains at issue. John Malone’s Liberty Broadband, the largest single shareholder of Charter, is said to be seeking a larger ownership share of Charter Communications in what analysts expect will be a gradual takeover of Charter by Malone.

This afternoon, Bright House confirmed acquisition talks are underway.

brighthouse1“While we have had conversations with many parties about this transaction, we do not have an agreement with anyone regarding future plans for Bright House,” a company spokeswoman said in the statement.

The deal may also depend on whether regulators approve the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Time Warner Cable currently represents Bright House in most cable programming negotiations and the two cable companies have closely worked together on technology and services for more than a decade. That collaboration is likely to end if the Comcast merger is approved, stranding New House as a small independent operator.

Charter was long-expected to make offers to acquire other cable operators in its quest to grow larger, especially after failing in its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable for itself. An acquisition of Bright House by Charter would allow the company to further expand its presence in the south and midwest where it focuses most of its cable operations.

But it is not a done deal yet. The talks between Charter and Bright House could still fall apart and may not result in a deal, one source cautioned.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Bloomberg Charter in Talks to Buy Newhouse Bright House Networks 3-12-15.flv

Bloomberg News reports Charter Communications is in talks with the Newhouse family to acquire Bright House Networks in an all-stock deal. (1:22)

Bright House Networks Adding Pricey 300/15Mbps Broadband Tier: $199.95/Mo or $95+ in Bundle

brighthouse1Speed costs.

At least in central Florida where Bright House Networks provides cable service.

The company’s entire Florida service area will be able to sign up for 300/15Mbps broadband beginning later this month. The cost ranges from $95 a month for customers with a deluxe bundle of services all the way up to $199.95 a month for Internet-only customers.

“We continually look for ways to provide the best available choices to our customers. Just a few months ago, we increased our maximum bandwidth offering to 150Mbps, and now we are making available an additional product at 300Mbps,” said Kevin Hyman, executive vice president, Cable Operations, Bright House Networks. “We’ve opted to make this product available to our entire Florida footprint meaning millions of Floridians will have this choice available to them.”

Bright House will support the speeds on its existing DOCSIS 3 network, which means some customers with older modems and slower speeds may need new equipment to take full advantage of the speed tier. Upload speeds drag behind download speeds because of existing network architecture, although other cable companies are managing to offer higher upload speeds than Bright House. When DOCSIS 3.1 arrives, expect upstream speeds to get a boost.

Verizon reminds us its customers can already get faster upload speeds (300/300Mbps) for around the same price Bright House charges for broadband-only service.

The newest tier joins Bright House’s other tiers, which were upgraded late last year:

bright house tiers

Cloudy Days for Bright House Networks Ahead? Comcast-Time Warner Merger Complicates Volume Discounts

(Original image: Musée McCord Museum - Re-envisioned by Stop the Cap!)

(Original image: Musée McCord Museum) — (Re-envisioned by Stop the Cap!)

Bright House Networks customers could face much higher cable television bills and a decline in technology upgrades thanks to a merger deal between two companies that should theoretically have no impact on them.

Bright House Networks has been an odd duck among cable companies since it was created from cobbled-together systems originally owned by Vision Cable, Cable Vision, TelePrompTer, Group W, Paragon and others. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Time Warner effectively ran the cable systems still owned by the Newhouse family. After the AOL-Time Warner merger, Advance/Newhouse decided to take back control of the management and operations of its cable systems, relaunching them under the Bright House Networks brand.

While the Newhouse family continues to assert its ownership and control of Bright House, it is highly dependent on Time Warner Cable to handle cable programming negotiations and broadband technology. That is why Bright House customers were sold “Road Runner” broadband service for many years – a brand familiar to any Time Warner customer. To this day, programming blackouts that affect Time Warner cable TV viewers usually also impact those subscribing to Bright House. Time Warner Cable also retains a minority ownership interest in Bright House.

Although the company is well-known in Indianapolis, Birmingham, suburban Detroit and Bakersfield, its presence is most recognized in central Florida, where it serves customers in Orlando, Daytona Beach, Lakeland, Tampa Bay, and many points in-between.

Despite the fact Bright House serves more than two million customers and is the sixth largest cable company in the country, it is small potatoes to major programmers like Comcast-NBCUniversal, Viacom, Disney, and others. All the best discounts go to satellite television providers and giant cable operators like Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Smaller operators pay substantially more.

That is where the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable comes in.

brighthouse1The federal government is likely to count Bright House’s 2.2 million customers as part of the Time Warner Cable family, at least as far as control of cable programming pricing is concerned. Despite Comcast’s voluntary commitment to keep its national share of the cable TV business under 30 percent with the merger of Time Warner, Comcast hasn’t taken seriously counting  the customers of the uninvited cousin – Bright House.

Logistically and legally, Comcast would assume control of Time Warner Cable’s interest in Bright House if the merger is approved by state and federal regulators. That may be too much for regulators to swallow.

Because Bright House is insignificant to Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s marriage plans, Comcast could end up terminating the arrangement, which even Bright House acknowledged would put it “at risk of losing the material benefits such agreements provide, include possibly raising costs for its customers and hampering its ability to compete effectively—a result that would certainly not be in the public interest.”

The Newhouse family has evidently seen the writing on the wall, hiring Wall Street investment bank UBS to advise whether it makes sense to sell. If Bright House does decide to hang out a “for sale” sign, Time Warner Cable has the right to bid first. But by that time, if things go according to plan, it might be Comcast ultimately swallowing up yet another large cable system.

Bright House, Time Warner Cable, and Mediacom Customers Get Expanded TV Everywhere

NBC_Universal.svgThree cable operators have announced additions to their TV Everywhere services that let cable television subscribers stream certain cable networks from home computers and portable wireless devices.

Time Warner and Bright House are inching towards making their apps more useful with new deals that will allow viewing outside of the home. Unsurprisingly, Time Warner has managed to sign a deal with their potential new owner — Comcast/NBCUniversal —  that includes anywhere-viewing of live and on demand content from NBCUniversal’s suite of cable networks including USA Network, Syfy, Telemundo, Bravo, Oxygen, CNBC, MSNBC, mun2, NBC Sports Network, and Golf Channel, as well as local NBC and Telemundo-owned broadcast stations.

Since Time Warner Cable handles cable programming negotiations for Bright House Networks, both customers will receive the enhanced service.

Within the next few days, customers will have access to the NBC Sports Live Extra and Golf Live Extra services via apps on iOS and Android devices, as well as online. Access to the remaining broadcast and cable networks will become available to Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers starting in September, and continuing on an ongoing basis. Customers must verify their subscription to begin watching.

nfl channelUnfortunately, there are only a handful of NBC-owned and operated broadcast stations across both companies’ service areas. In most cases, local affiliate stations are owned and operated by other corporate entities and will not be included in this deal.

Mediacom Communications has expanded its own TV Everywhere package, adding NFL Network and NFL RedZone this week, along with mobile access to FX, FXX, FX Movies, National Geographic and National Geographic Wild.

Mediacom now offers 40 channels for out-of-home viewing and plans to add FOX Sports Go and other popular sports networks by September.

TV Everywhere allows Mediacom customers to always be connected to live entertainment and information,” said Mediacom senior vice president Ed Pardini. “Adding new channels to this service extends the value of a video subscription by giving customers more options to view their favorite programs when and where they want, whether that’s the big screen in living rooms or with the convenience of a mobile device.”

Mediacom customers looking for NFL Network and NFL RedZone on smartphones and tablets must download the free NFL Mobile App by going to the web site. Mediacom is now listed as a participating provider. Customers should log in with their Mediacom email address and username.

Bright House Introduces “Echo”; Extended Range for Your In-Home Wi-Fi Using MoCA Technology

bright house echo

Bright House Networks is leveraging their partnership with the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) to bring an end to Wi-Fi dead spots with the introduction of Echo, a scalable in-home Wi-Fi network.

Echo expands the coverage of a traditional in-home wireless router by adding wireless access points in areas where Wi-Fi reception is poor. All a customer needs is a nearby Bright House cable connection. The new service isn’t a traditional wireless repeater. Echo relies on a wired connection between the access point and your cable modem/router using Bright House’s existing coaxial cable inside your home.  The result is faster, more reliable Wi-Fi.

Moca-connected-home2“This is an Advanced Wireless Gateway, a next generation, dual-band modem/router that delivers more range and signal strength,” says Bright House. “From there, Echo Access Points can be used anywhere there is a cable outlet. An access point is a small device that works in conjunction with the modem to extend the home network. Connecting an access point extends the wired network because each access point has two Ethernet ports. Echo turns your existing coaxial cable network into a robust Ethernet network which means that if you have Lightning 90, you should receive speeds up to 90Mbps from the modem and each access point. Connecting an access point also extends the wireless network because each access point is its own Wi-Fi hotspot.”

MoCA is a compelling technology for customers who do not want multiple cable runs installed in their home or business. Originally designed primarily to transport video from “whole house” master DVR’s to remote set-top boxes and other devices, the technology is evolving into an a comprehensive in-home wired coax network capable of moving high-speed data, video, audio, and other traffic concurrently. Everything moves across the same cable TV wiring already in many homes.

Cable, telephone and satellite companies are contemplating introducing a number of MoCA-enabled features, some similar to Bright House’s Echo. Every cable outlet can potentially be a Wi-Fi hotspot as well as the source for IPTV services like Roku, Apple TV, or even cable television without the need of a traditional set-top box.

Bright House will initially market Echo to less technically proficient customers uncomfortable configuring wireless repeaters or remote access points.

Early reports indicate Bright House will charge a $29.95 mandatory trip charge to install and configure the service. Return visits to add extra access points run $29.95 per visit. Echo’s monthly cost starts at $10 — $6 for the service and $4 for the equipment. There is an extra charge of $3 a month for each access point.

The service was expected to launch this week, starting in Florida.

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  • karen: I agree with everyone here: it shouldn't be legal. And I guess when viewership numbers drop significantly, or when advertising dollars drop, cable co...
  • GBlljhgfvbffg5365: This. The Full Price needs to be disclosed before you even sign up. Quite often I've found is that their is a $50+ Difference in the price they advert...
  • Allen P.: Terrible Internet speeds and the worst customer service. Unfortunately they are the only provider for my area. I would get rid of them if I could....
  • Jason: I am curious if the 50Mbps speed as the fastest they ever achieved if that was wired or wireless? What environment are they in? An apartment or a sing...
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