Comcast Continues to Grow Monopoly


Image c/o Phillymag.com

Jerrold Electrics gave birth to American Cable Systems in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1963. Ralph J. Roberts purchased the cable company, which had five channels and 150,000 subscribers, for $500,000. Six years later, the company incorporated in Philadelphia and rebranded itself as Comcast Corporation, a combination of the words communication and broadcast.

Not long after, the company started growing into a bigger fish that gobbled up the smaller fish. In 1986, Comcast doubled its customer base when it purchased 26% of Group W Cable. Two years later, it bought 50% of Storer Communications and American Cellular Network Corporation. Then the company swallowed Metrophone in 1990.

From there, Comcast acquired the American portion of the Canadian company Maclean-Hunter; became the majority shareholder of QVC (only to resell it later), bought the cable wing of E.W. Scripps; purchased Sarasota online and grew its presence as an online service provider; and acquired Greater Philadelphia Cablevision.

In 1996, Comcast sent shockwaves through Philadelphia when the company purchased the majority stake in Spectacor, including the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers.

In 1999, Comcast announced a merger with MediaOne (formerly U S West), a cable company focusing on emerging phone technologies. At the last minute, though, AT&T stepped in and acquired the company. AT&T botched the merger and split their company in two. AT&T Broadband, one of newly formed divisions was purchased by Comcast in 2001. This made Comcast the biggest cable provider in the United States.

Then the company went on to buy Adelphia, MGM and UA with Sony, Susquehanna Communications, software company thePlatform (used by Verizon, BBC, PBS, AP and more), Patriot Media, Plaxo.

In 2011, Comcast made a huge splash by purchasing NBC Universal. The company added television channels like NBC Sports Network (OLN/VS), Comcast SportsNet and the Golf Channel.

In February, Comcast began the process of buying Time Warner Cable. If the deal is approved, the two companies hope to merge by the end of this year.

Currently, Netflix is paying the Comcast Corporation for direct access to its broadband network, which would provide better, faster streaming to its customers. Comcast’s X1 platform offers access to Netflix content.

According to one Comcast employee, the company’s On Demand service has merged with Netflix on X1.

“Don’t cancel your Netflix subscription just yet, though,” the employee said. “There’s still some content you can only get on Netflix and the transition won’t be complete until later this year.”

Netflix has similar interconnection agreements with other companies like Verizon but is this statement a glimpse of a potential merger? It is hard to say, considering the fact that Comcast and Netflix are feuding with each other but, when push comes to shove, business is business and the almighty dollar supersedes personal feelings.

Comcast has also started new verticals recently.

The company began offering home security and automation services in conjunction with Cisco.

Now, Comcast has partnered with NRG Energy company to combine utility bills with their Triple Play service in a trial run to the company’s customers in Pennsylvania. Comcast may not have the manpower or expertise to enter the utility business on its own but history has certainly proven that the company is certainly willing to purchase other companies that can. It’s a logical step for the company too. If Comcast is offering services that consume a significant amount of energy, why would it not want double down and money off of selling the required energy to its customers too?

Moreover, some of the deals Comcast made were done with the intent of preventing its competition from gaining ground. For instance, when the company purchased a majority stake in QVC, it did so to prevent CBS from doing so.

Google is a growing threat to Comcast. Its recent purchase of Nest and expansion of Google Fiber –which provides blazing fast internet at 1000 Mbps as well as television and DVR service wit the sweet perk of one terabyte of cloud storage — could eventually put Comcast on its heels and the mega-corporation is likely to take preventative measures to ensure that never happens.

Update: While we insinuated net neutrality, we never discussed it implicitly. So, we’ll let John Oliver handle that:

Marcello C. De Feo

Founder and CEO at Untied Magazine
Marcello De Feo started blogging in 2002 as a way to promote his band and stay in touch with friends back east when he lived in Colorado. Over the years, he has owned and run many blogs, the most notable of which was FlyersFaithful.com. Untied is his most expansive effort to date and he is ecstatic to have so many brilliant writers on board from the get go.
  • Nina G.

    I hate how government favors corporations over the consumer. They should not be able to have their greedy fingers involved in so much and giving customers fewer and fewer choices.

    • http://gearadelphia.com/ Marcello

      I agree but Id’ also be surprised if the merger with Time Warner Cable is approved.