Charter Communications May Add 2 Million Subscribers

Charter Communications, one of the largest cable TV and high-speed internet providers in the world, may add two million more subscribers to its portfolio. The company, now providing cable television, high speed internet, and digital voice service under its Charter Spectrum banner, is in talks to purchase Bright House Networks.

According to Variety Magazine:

Charter is the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator with more than 6 million subscribers. It’s poised to grow substantially if it is able to complete a deal with Comcast to acquire systems serving another 3.9 million subscribers in a series of transactions tied to Comcast’s completion of its merger agreement with Time Warner Cable.

Time Warner Cable has had an agreement with Bright House to manage its cable systems since 2003. The fate of that arrangement has been up in the air with the Comcast merger, which may have spurred Advance’s interest in selling out to Charter. Bloomberg pegged the value of the deal as possibly reaching $12 billion, based on the general pricing range for the pending Charter-Comcast transaction.

If both the Bright House and Comcast deals are able to go through, most of the nation’s cable subscribers will be Charter Communications customers. Many argue this is bad for the customers, as there tends to be a lessening of response to poor service quality in a monopoly situation. The cable companies can argue that there is not a monopoly due to other services providing TV and internet such as DIRECTV, Dish Network and AT&T U-Verse.

We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned to the TV, Internet and Phone Blog for more information as it becomes available.

Sweet Sixteen Schedule Set for Cable TV

With the first two rounds of action complete in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, March Madness is moving closer and closer to its end. The Sweet 16 begins today, and here you’ll be able to find where to watch all the action on cable TV.

Here are the times and channels (all Eastern Time), via TV Media Insights:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

7:15 p.m. on CBS: Midwest Region
(#3) Notre Dame vs. (#7) Wichita State
7:47 p.m. on TBS: West Region
(#1) Wisconsin vs. (#4) North Carolina
Approx. 9:45 p.m. on CBS: Midwest Region
(#1) Kentucky vs. (#5) West Virginia
Approx. 10:17 p.m. on TBS: West Region
(#2) Arizona vs. (#6) Xavier
Friday, March 27, 2015

7:15 p.m. on CBS: South Region
(#2) Gonzaga vs. (#11) UCLA
7:37 p.m. on TBS: East Region
(#4) Louisville vs. (#8) N.C. State
Approx. 9:45 p.m. on CBS: South Region
(#1) Duke vs. (#5) Utah
Approx. 10:07 p.m. on TBS: East Region
(#3) Oklahoma vs. (#7) Michigan State

A few upsets have led lower seeds to the Sweet 16 and busted many brackets. Now is when we’ll see if sleeper teams like Wichita State (who upset the Kansas Jayhawks) and NC State, who upset #1 seed Villanova, can continue their run in the big dance.

For those who want to watch basketball at its best, though, the game to tune in to is the late game on CBS on Thursday, where the Kentucky Wildcats will attempt to continue their run to perfection and setting the record for most wins in a college season. West Virginia will prove a worthy challenger.

Stay tuned to the TV, Internet and Phone Blog for the Final Four matchup next week.

High Speed Internet Infrastructure Could Bring Opportunity to Flint, MI

The city of Flint, MI has been in the national news for reasons that aren’t the best, the town often used as an example of the decay of the American manufacturing economy and the increase in poverty and unemployment. Now, though, the city is taking steps to change that image, with the city teaming with Kettering University to bring new high speed internet infrastructure to Flint and surrounding areas.

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New internet applications could improve health care, education, public safety and advanced manufacturing, said John Geske, department head and professor of Computer Science at Kettering University.

There could be possibilities of street lights and traffic lights controlled by high-speed internet.

Kettering University and the city of Flint are at the forefront of innovation throughout the country through the national US Ignite initiative.

“(The initiative is trying to bring) high-speed internet into communities so these communities have the ability to develop some really next-generation applications that might have really high societal value,” Geske said. “It’s a very big deal. We’ve been really successful. Kettering has been really successful in leading the community to this high-generation, high-speed networking.”

This will not change the high-speed internet service available to homes throughout Flint, at least not at first, but will lead to more ability to use the internet in public spaces such as schools and libraries. High speed internet infrastructure will also likely attract start-up tech firms and other companies who will be attracted by the tech-friendly environment.

NHL Playoffs to Air on USA Network This Year

Exposure to the NHL has steadily grown after a steep drop-off with the addition of the Winter Classic and other outdoor games, as well as the prevalence of hockey on broadcast television via weekend games on NBC. Since NBC holds the rights to the NHL in the United States, they are able to place professional hockey games on any of their cable television networks as well as on their main broadcast network.

In order to bring more exposure to the playoffs this year, NHL games will appear not only on NBC, NHL Network, and NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus and Outdoor Life Network), but on the more popular USA Network as well. USA has a lot of loyal viewership through its broadcasting of original hour long series and WWE Raw every Monday; it’s likely NBC hopes that these loyal viewers will see promotions for upcoming games and stay tuned.

Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog thinks it’s a good move:

“But let’s be real: USA Network has the viewership — sixth-highest rated cable network in last week’s ratings — and the properties that could be really valuable in promoting the playoffs. Unless you don’t think a preview of a first-round Game 7 before the main event on MONDAY NIGHT RAW wouldn’t be beneficial.

Smart move on its surface for the NHL. Now, how do we get Henrik Lundqvist to guest on “Suits”?”

Hockey is still well behind Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, and especially NFL football when it comes to its position in popularity amongst the four major team sports in the US, and NASCAR and Major League Soccer are threatening to take its place in the Big Four. NBC’s purchase of NHL rights has been good for the sport—ESPN always treated the NHL like a second-class citizen, and with NBCSN’s weekly broadcasts, there are way more national games available to fans than ever before. Here’s hoping the move to expose the sport more on the most popular cable channel does even more to keep the hockey fires alive in the USA.

March Madness: Find it On Cable TV

The time has come: the Round of 64 is here (enough with that First Four nonsense—those are play-in games) and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament really begins. Make sure your brackets are filled out before the first game starts, and sit back for a long weekend of basketball, maybe the best weekend in sports all year long.

It’s been a long time since a team has come in as favored to win the tournament as the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, who are seeking to win the title as an undefeated team for the first time since Bobby Knight did so with his Indiana Hoosiers more than thirty years ago. But anything can happen when it’s winner take all in every particular game, and you’ll want to be there to see all the blowouts, upsets, and highlights.

CBS Sports has the rights to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, so you can find all of your March Madness viewing on CBS-owned cable and network television. Check out the schedule, and make sure to find where all those channels are on your cable television package. This year, games will air on:

  • CBS
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • truTV

You may ask yourself: “Really, truTV?” Yes, the channel with all the courtroom shows and true crime documentaries that form the basis for CSI episodes is hosting NCAA tournament basketball once again, as part of the CBS/Turner Sports team-up. Look up where it is available from your provider, and be sure to find the HD feed: you’ll hope you have found a cable provider with the most HD channels in your area.

Games begin today at 12:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Get ready.

Can Apple Change Cable TV Forever?

Ever since the prevalence of Netflix streaming services, and devices like SMART TVs and the Roku box, people in the entertainment and technology industries have been talking about the downfall of satellite TV and cable TV providers. Now, Apple is also getting into the game, with a rumored service supposedly coming live in fall of 2015. How exactly this service will look is not yet determined by outside observers, but it will probably go one of two ways:

  1. Bundles of channels or programming will be available through iTunes for viewing on TVs and other devices
  2. Apple will create its own cable bundle working with content providers and offer these channels via broadband connection

Whichever way they go, it’s unlikely to “blow up” the current establishment, according to the Money Blog at CNN:

“A number of companies are already working on selling “virtual cable” — channel packages that don’t require a visit from a cable guy. These streaming services don’t blow up the cable bundle, but they make it more convenient and portable, and in some cases smaller. Apple would be the biggest entrant to the market yet.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday night that Apple would like to launch such a service “this fall,” and is in negotiations with major channel owners to make it happen.”

CNN’s point is that all of this has been done before, and has yet to really cost cable TV providers any money or business. Much of the reason for this is that most cable television consumers get their broadband internet from the same provider that gives them their cable television package: often at a discount for bundling services.

Apple has been ahead of the game in a number of respects: iTunes changed the way music is bought and paid for, and helped save the music industry when it became easier to pirate music than to purchase it for many savvy internet users. Cable TV hasn’t gotten to that point yet, though, so it’s probably going to take a lot longer to change.