Those in Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s respective executive suites may be all for it, but most Americans oppose the proposed merger of the two cable industry giants, according to an opinion poll conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, which found that 56 percent of those surveyed oppose the merger. Thirty-two percent had no opinion and just 11 percent were in favor of it.
What’s the reason for such strong public opposition? Most believe the merger will lead to higher cable bills. Commenting on the survey results, Delara Derakshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, commented, “Most Americans don’t have time to follow complicated corporate mergers but this deal has definitely captured the public’s attention.
“Consumers are tired of rising monthly bills and lousy customer service for cable and Internet and have little faith that this mega merger will make things any better.”
Comcast/Time Warner Cable Merger Opposition
Comcast announced the proposed $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable back in February. The proposed merger would combine the nation’s largest cable and broadband Internet service provider with the second largest cable and third largest broadband provider. If approved, Consumer Reports highlights, Comcast would control more than two-thirds of U.S. cable TV customers and nearly 40 percent of the broadband Internet market.
Other key findings in Consumer Reports’ poll include:
- 56 percent of Americans oppose the Comcast / Time Warner Cable merger, while only 11 percent support it. 32 percent of respondents did not have an opinion on the deal;
- 74 percent of Americans agree that the merger will result in higher Internet and cable prices for everyone;
- 74 percent of Americans believe consumers will have fewer choices when it comes to cable and Internet providers because smaller companies will not be able to compete with Comcast;
- 66 percent believe that Comcast will have little incentive to improve customer service because of the lack of competition;
- 54 percent of respondents said they thought customer satisfaction will get worse if the merger is approved;
- 81 percent of Americans are concerned that Comcast’s increased market share will enable it to favor its own programming over its competitors’ if the merger is approved. Comcast currently owns several broadcast and cable TV channels as a result of its previous merger with NBC Universal;
- Consumers were very skeptical of the benefits Comcast has touted if the merger is allowed.
- Only 16 percent agreed that the merger will allow Comcast to operate more efficiently and lower its costs, and result in lower prices for consumers;
- Just one-third of respondents agreed that the merger would allow the two companies to combine their capabilities to develop new innovative products and services for customers;
- Just 12 percent of Americans believe that mergers like this one are good for the economy overall;
- 61 percent said that, if this merger is approved, it will encourage other large scale mergers among TV/Internet companies trying to keep up. The survey was conducted prior to the announcement of the AT&T-DirecTV merger.
“Comcast and Time Warner Cable have consistently scored poorly when it comes to customer satisfaction so it’s no surprise that Americans are skeptical of this proposed deal,” Derakhshani added. “Most consumers expect the merger will turn things from bad to worse.”
Both Comcast and Time Warner Cable earned low scores on Consumer Reports’ latest annual survey of readers’ experience with television and Internet service. Comcast ranked 15th of 17 television service providers, ranking particularly low regarding value for money and customer support.
Time Warner Cable ranked 16th overall for television service and earned particularly low ratings for value, reliability and phone/online customer support. Both companies were rated mediocre in terms of overall customer satisfaction with Internet service, and both rated particularly poorly for value and for phone/online customer support, Consumer Reports highlights.