Cable Or Satellite Mergers Would Have Little Impact On Programming Prices: Analyst

Liberty Media’s John Malone and other execs are pounding the drums for cable and satellite companies to merge — in part to help hold down their rising programming costs. You’d expect outlays to fall as big companies apply the relatively low rates they pay across a larger collection of subscribers. But International Strategy & Investment Group analyst Vijay Jayant says today that the net shift in value to distributors from programmers would not be meaningful. AMC Networks, Viacom and Fox likely would see the greatest loss in their values while CBS, Discovery, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal would see the least. (He looks at outlays for basic channels; prices for premium services, regional sports networks, and VOD likely wouldn’t be affected by mergers.) If Charter joins Time Warner Cable, the blended company would save about $532M in 2014 as monthly programming outlays for their estimated 15.4M customers fall to $27.92 per subscriber from $30.80. By 2018 the savings would rise to $903M as the combo paid $38.08 instead of $43.21 for 14.7M customers. If DirecTV merged with Dish Network the satellite companies could save $525M next year, with costs dropping to $33.99 per sub from $35.28 for 34.1M customers. By 2018 that could come to $1.28B with prices of $44 vs. $47.21 without a merger for 33.3M subs. And if all cable operators except Comcast merged? That would save $2.66B in 2014 with prices for 33.4M subs falling to $27.81 from $34.46, rising to $3.8B in 2018 with costs for 31.4M subs falling to $37.29 from $47.39. 

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