Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 2/19 to 2/21: Another SAP reorg; Comcast said to seek Vudu

A change in New Jersey’s cable map

Tom Paine

Cable television provider Altice said Wednesday it will purchase Service Electric’s operations in New Jersey. Service Electric’s franchise areas in New Jersey are in Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex Counties. The price will be $250 million.

Service Electric, based in Bethlehem, has a rather unique history. John Walson had a TV store in Mahanoy, PA, but over-the-air reception was poor in the mountainous region. In 1948, Walson ran a cable from his store to an antenna he placed on top of a nearby mountain. The idea was to be able to demo broadcast content in his store. But as the story goes, he found he could hook residences near the cable route onto his system. Many in the industry believe this was first commercial cable TV system.

Service Electric still has its Pennsylvania systems, in the Lehigh Vallley, the Wilkes-Barre area, and pieces of Chester, Berks and Lancaster Counties. It’s still controlled by the Walson family.

The New Jersey systems that New York-based Altice (formerly Cablesystem) is acquiring are contiguous to its preexisting territories. But they are also contiguous to Comcast territories.

The cable industry was once all about buying and selling systems, But now there are only a few major systems left, and not many sizable independents to buy. Since withdrawing from the Time Warner Cable sales process, Comcast has not been a buyer in the US, with the exception of some tiny fill-in spots mostly in New England (Comcast “not welcome” here: Customers protest sale of tiny cable company)

. Its not known whether it showed interest in the New Jersey Service Electric systems.

Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 2/1/20- 2/2/20

TakeAways from Comcast’s 2019 Earnings Day

Tom Paine

Comcast added 261,000 mobile lines in Q4, ending the year with 2.05 million lines. Dave Watson, Comcast Cable’s president and CEO, attributed the rise in Xfinity Mobile lines in part to “real traction at retail” and a general maturity of the product.

AT&T recently said it is open to MVNO talks with cable operators. As of now Comcast relies almost completely on Verizon. It didn’t indicate yesterday whether it was open to pursuing other MVNO relationships. CFO Michael Cavanagh said Xfinity Mobile should become EBIDTA-positive for the full year in 2021

Comcast lost 671,000 residential pay-TV customers in 2019, compared to a 344,000 in 2018. It expects the trend to continue (or widen) in 2020.  For broadband-only subscribers, Comcast will bank on its new Xfinity Flex streaming platform to grow its subscriber base.

On Peacock: “We needed to pivot the whole company to the streaming world and I think what’s exciting is how well our cable company has done that,” Brian Roberts said. “Peacock will go right back for the advertisers and get you in a growing market, taking advantage of streaming with a free product as well.”

“With the rate adjustments that we are implementing in 2020, as well as the ongoing changes in consumer behavior, we expect higher video subscriber losses this year,” said Cavanagh.

Although TV Answer Man clarifies some confusion about price increases.

Comcast Cable operating margins remain near 40%.

NBCU’s Universal Studios was hurt largely because Cats was a bomb.

Richard Greenfield, an analyst with LightShed Partners, believes streaming is a superior delivery vehicle that goes against the heart of the legacy cable business model.

To top Earnings Day off, Comcast had a one hour nationwide outage yesterday afternoon.

Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 1/23/2020: Comcast finding “traction” in mobile; Moody’s acquires KOP-based RDC

Philly EnterpriseTech Highlights 1/22: Comcast sports problems in Denver; Microsoft giving up TV ambitions

those ambitions once tied to Comcast

Philly EnterpriseTech Weekend Highlights: Comcast introduces Peacock, hits new high

Looking at relative values among telcos, as Comcast touches new high

Tom Paine

Comcast reached a new high of $47.35 in the final hour of trading Friday, coming during the intro presentation of its new streaming service Peacock.

I thought it would a good time to look at the relative values of the major broadband & wireless players at this point. Many analysts have speculated that there is going to be some merger activity between some members of this group at some point.

Of course, Sprint and T-Mobile are awaiting final judgment on their merger plans in Federal Court.

($Billions)Equity ValueLong Term DebtTotal Capitalization
As of 9/19
($Billions)Equity ValueLong Term DebtTotal Capitalization

Comcast’s Universal cancels “The Hunt” (for now)

Statement by Comcast’s Universal Pictures (August 10)

“While Universal Pictures had already paused the marketing campaign for The Hunt, after thoughtful consideration, the studio has decided to cancel our plans to release the film.  We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller, but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film.”

Meaning, I assume, that there will be a “right time” in the future.

Also, the trailer has been removed.

Tom Paine

Comcast’s Universal Pictures is temporarily halting marketing & promotion for its upcoming film “The Hunt,” following three mass shootings in Dayton, El Paso, and Gilroy, California.

“Out of sensitivity to the attention on the country’s recent shooting tragedies, Universal Pictures and the filmmakers of ‘The Hunt’ have temporarily paused its marketing campaign and are reviewing materials as we move forward,” a spokesperson for Universal said in a statement.

“The Hunt” features a group of wealthy American elites literally hunting down and shooting people called deplorables, legally it appears. It may be brilliant satire of a kind, but its also just kind of weird.

At this time, “The Hunt” plans to maintain its Sept. 27 release date.

Zayo to be acquired by two investors

Zayo Group Holdings, Inc., after an extensive review period, agreed to be acquired by PE firms Digital Colony and EQT, for $14.3 billion including $5.9 billion of net debt, in a deal announced Wednesday.

Zayo, under pressure, said in March it was looking at strategic options.

Boulder, Colo.-based Zayo operates a 131,000-mile fiber network in the U.S., Canada and Europe that connects to thousands of buildings and data centers.

Zayo has a strong east coast network and a data center at 401 N Broad St. It had been subject to periodic speculation in the past that Comcast might be interested in acquiring it.

But Zayo might find its ultimate purpose as an acquisition by someone building out 5g.