Why Apple TV and Netflix fans should be worried about the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal

“Netflix-loving New Yorkers may be in for a rude awakening if Comcast gets the green light to buy Time Warner Cable in a $45.2 billion stock deal,” Kaja Whitehouse reports for The New York Post.

“Comcast, which is currently the nation’s largest Internet service provider, has been falling in Netflix’s data-speed rankings in recent months. And experts say it will only get worse if regulators approve Comcast’s bid to swallow Time Warner, the nation’s second-largest cable provider,” Whitehouse reports. “Comcast, which is currently the nation’s largest Internet service provider, has been falling in Netflix’s data-speed rankings in recent months. And experts say it will only get worse if regulators approve Comcast’s bid to swallow Time Warner, the nation’s second-largest cable provider.”

Whitehouse reports, “The low ranking coincides with increasingly loud complaints by Comcast consumers who say their Netflix viewing has become spotty at best, according to reports.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The same goes for Apple TV users. A throttled Apple TV is worse than useless, it actually harms Apple’s reputation as most users wrongly blame Apple when Apple TV buffers, instead of rightfully blaming the keepers of the data pipes into their homes.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]


      1. Yes, and then a lot more people would have a good reason to hate Apple.

        Face it, cable companies are in a position to be hated, period. Apple becoming a cable company would not change that dynamic.

        1. No. We’re talking about two companies that blatantly go out of their way to ABUSE their customers. That’s putting THEMSELVES into a position to be hated specifically because they hate their customers.

          The position the CUSTOMERS are in is that there is no competition, no alternative, no recourse when these two vicious companies screw you over. (At least in most cases). I have no idea how Apple would do as a cable company, other than knowing that business is outside their areas of expertise. But Apple could NEVER do worse than Comcast or Time Warner. I don’t think it’s possible.

          (I’ve personally written two detailed exposés of Time Warner customer abuse. Similar exposés about Comcast are rampant. Leo Laporte of TWiT.TV can’t stop telling his viewers that “Comcast is the worst company in America. The worst company in America.”)

    1. Nonsense. Cable companies are no more evil than any corporation. They are in the business to make money for their shareholders. They are not charities. Surely we do not want those idiots in government to get involved in business. It is survival of the fittest in the US, and Comcast is pretty fit in the pipe arena. Suck it up and pay the piper.

      1. No so in most cases comcast is a utility. Except in a very few areas you choice of cable providers is precisly one

        That is the reality of utilities, the problem is that Comcast/Xfinity also has a second business of content sales, and they can use their distribution business to choke out competitors by using the ISP business to throttle or delay packets from competitors (Apple, Netflix or Hulu) of their content distribution business.

      2. “Surely we don’t want those idiots in government to get involved in business.”

        Right! Let the cable monopolies, established and protected by government go away, please!!!!!

        1. I think the less regulation the better, but we can’t have one division of a monopoly utility (or duopoly in this case random with Verizon) able to choke out the competitors of another division thus allowing them to charge whatever they want (as they will be no real alternative)
          However the solution is simple, split the internet service provider and content provider divisions of Comcast (and likely also Verizon) into separate companies.

        2. Just as they did with electric utilities at the state level. Electric service in many states was split into four components; electric service provider, distribution and delivery, meter services, and billing. The only one guaranteed to the companies that own the poles and wires is distribution and delivery. Your electric bill has been split into these four services for billing. The owner of the poles and wires collects only the distribution and delivery portion of the bill. Everything else has been left up to the customer to choose a provider, and everyone competes on price and service for those roles. That’s the way it should be for internet service too, but that would require re-regulation. I’d be all for it.

        3. You, and everyone who thinks they have an opinion on this topic, should familiarize yourselves with the struggles of Lafayette, LA to get fiber service to every house in their city. Sometimes regulation is just required to bring the rapaciousness and greed of these incumbent providers under control. Privately owned infrastructure never serves the public well.

      3. Ah yes “those idiots in government” last time I checked our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Of course maybe you’re a “corporations are people too, my friend.” In which case, if a corporations actions lead to manslaughter, how far does guilt by association go? Officers? Board? Shareholders? Just asking.

        In the final analysis, yet another case of the Libertarian/Republican mindset – WE LOVE AMERICA! Unfortunately regarding most Americans (aka, the 99%)…not so much…not so much at all.

      4. CupertinoJoe echoes the biznizz bozo world:
        They are in the business to make money for their shareholders

        Thus Capitalism is CORRUPTED and FAILs.

        – If you work for a company that ONLY exists to make money for the shareholders, you’re working for a f*cked company.
        – If you hold with the belief that business is ONLY about making money, you’re living in a f*cked head.

        The Self-Destructive Imperative:
        Parasitize everything in reach. Take all. Contribute nothing. Leave nothing.

        ‘Survival of the fittest’ has nothing to do with it.

        In REAL capitalism, the customer is the CORE of the business. Don’t call your business capitalist if you abuse your customers. Call your business insane and self-loathing.

  1. Just a thought here. Apple needs to set up software so that if there is slower network speeds, the Apple TV could buffer more of the signal. Apple should consider going up to 64 Gig of on board ram.

    Start your movie, get some popcorn, part way thru, use the bathroom. Problem solved. Sort of. LOL

    1. Not really. A larger buffer means a huge delay in starting your program and if the cable companies know it, they will not only throttle but even time delay multiplex the signals with bigger gaps. Still a poor experience.

    2. This is the way QuickTime streaming used to work: buffer enough at the beginning to hopefully see you through the entire video.

      The problem with this is two fold.
      1. People loudly complained that the initial buffering time was *way* too long as people hated the long wait before their video started.
      2. Services such as Comcast allow the initial streaming to start at a rapid rate, then after a several hundred megabytes of data are streamed Comcast lowers the cap data rate — and in some cases lower it again after a few gigabytes of data are streamed. (I know several people across the country with Comcast who have verified this even in service contracts where the contracted data rate is 40 Mbps or more.) Thus, when this happens, the AppleTV would only buffer enough to keep ahead of the initial, higher speed and when the lower speed kicks in the buffer quickly evaporates and you’re back to stuttering and re-buffering.

      The only way to get around this is to get the FCC to reinstitute true net neutrality (maybe I should say really institute as the original rulings were far from true net neutrality).

      If I have a service that claims I get 50 Mbps then it must not matter whether I’m checking my email, downloading a web page, streaming Netflix, or downloading motion imagery from a U.S. Government site. Bits must be bits and treated ALL THE SAME.

      First the U.S. Congress needs to pass laws supporting declaring ISPs Common Carriers. Then the FCC needs to declare them Common Carriers and institute regulations fully implementing absolute net neutrality.

  2. Comcast wants to throttle internet traffic to extort more money from subscribers. They have monopoly power in many of the largest markets in the USA and this merger will give them even more. If this merger is allowed by the government then there is no regulation at all in this country. Corporations have won.

    1. I think this might not be the defining event of the corporate takeover of America. It has already happened. The defining event was the position by the Supreme Court that “corporations are people too”, to quote the Mittster. Followed by the failure of Congress to pass legislation to correct the Courts error. Wonder how that happened.

  3. This NY Times article is SO true on so many fronts. Mark my words, if this deal goes through, in a few years internet and bandwidth speeds, as well as the cost for tv / entertainment services will go through the roof due to a lack of competition within the marketplace for the rights to TV and Movie content. Sure, comcast is
    Going to try (and more then likely persuade the government regulatory agencies that there will still be competition within the market place) and “maybe… and that’s a HUGE maybe fees might go down in the near-term to appease the public and regulatory agencies, but I wouldn’t be surprised in just a few years, say 3 to 4 years, the cost of tv / internet services will go WAY UP due to a lack of competition within the market place and reduction of companies who can afford to acquire that content and provide it to their customers. I mean, if APPLE even NOW can’t get these backward-thinking, cable dinosaurs to provide innovative services to their customers (even with their vast amount of money in the bank), just think of how horrid, if not next to impossible, dealing with the cable companies would get after the deal goes through!!

    The people need to get their voice heard by the regulatory agencies and just say NO

  4. Why do we think it would be worse? On a well know highly reputable speed testing site (TestMy.net), Comcast ranks 4th among providers at an average of 16 Mbps download while Time Warner tanks 11th at an average of 11.5 Mbps. I personally have Time Warner’s 50 Mbps down and 5Mbps Up plan, and my numbers are typically close to those numbers on my iMac (wired). Not sure what premium plans Comcast offers or their prices compared to Time Warner though. I get what I’d call pretty good streaming from Netflix and Amazon Instant. The non-competitive throttling business does need to get squared away soon though. IMO the US’s Internet infrastructure is very marginal for supporting high def video streaming. I can see the demand for it outpacing the investment it will take to make it a good experience.

    1. Really, I wouldn’t be they spend 25 Million a year on lobbying. Thats a lot of brown bags of cash to the rite people. This will go through, with some symbolic gesture of fake Net Neutrality.

  5. It will take a class action lawsuit against Comcast to get them to change. Why? Because their throttling is making them money. People buy movies on demand from Comcast instead of Netflix or Apple TV because the experience is better. So until Comcast is hit hard in the bank account, it won’t change its behavior.

  6. The fundamental problem is that there are no more ISPs who are just ISPs. Every single one of them now offers other types of content-based services (TV, phone), and they ALL now have a reason to selectively throttle competitors’ traffic. In other words, make AppleTV, Hulu and Netflix useless enough, and people will eventually resign and sign up for their crappy, unintuitive video-on-demand services. And even if there actually are some independent ISPs who don’t also offer VOD, they have every reason to extort streaming content providers for “guaranteed” bandwidth on their network.

    Regulation is THE only way, as it looks like the current laws do not adequately address this problem. Here is an analogy: imagine if UPS had owned some roads in some cities. They would then charge usual tolls for cars and trucks, but would then have a special surcharge for FedEx truck, which would “guarantee” timely passage through toll booths (and perhaps access to the HOV lane). If not, they could orchestrate artificial congestion in order to slow them down (like Chris Christie did in New Jersey on the bridge to NYC…). If no current laws exist that would make this illegal, new ones might be needed.

    1. Is this all there is, capitalism distorting consumer choices to maximise profit for favoured firms, with at-best toothless regulation assured by a system of bribes, glossed over by marble-mouthed lawyers and politicians? Who falls for this crap? What a sorry, pathetic species to settle for this type of organisation.

      1. While no nation is perfect or immune, there are many places where regulation does have some teeth. The massive size of American unified consumer market produced massive stakes in this business of capitalism, which developed into the scenario you describe.

        Numerous examples are out there, demonstrating the powerlessness of consumers, regardless of how well organised, agains these powerful interests. America is still legally using pesticides that were long ago prohibited in the EU (due to detrimental health effects), but agro lobby keeps such regulation under control in the US. Just one of many examples that come to mind.

  7. The FCC would never permit this merger to happen. If it does, then everyone, should become very worried. Just the fact that this topic will be in the news for at least a six months if not all of 2014 will put pressure on the likes of AT&T uverse to attract new customers to their internet and TV service by offering discounts but also see an increase in online services such as Netflix.

  8. 1- First I read… Apple has new AppleTV coming in 2014.
    2- Then I read… Apple is dealing with Time-Warner to get title rights.
    3- Then news of Comcast $45B buy of Time-Warner… Deal probably not closing till after #2.
    Who can connect the dots here?

  9. If Apple would have taken the money it had banked prior to the dividend pay outs they could have easily bought Comcast- stripped out the Cable company- flipped the rest into an IPO (NBCUniversal) repurposed the company into whatever it needed and then returned it to the market in another IPO. Done right it could be done at a profit.

    That is water under the bridge now. Cook is not the single minded bastard (meant as a compliment) Steve Jobs was with the belly to do what needed to get done. Cook instead wasted his time talking to fools like Icahn about dividends.

    1. I don’t think Apple so. 45 billion is a huge number and that is just for Warner, Comcast is another 140 billion. So those two, if you could buy them for their market cap would be worth nearly half of Apples cap. Not a good move for Apple. Next would you have Apple buy AT&T and Verizon? Apple does not make its money from internet or wireless, they make it from sales of great hardware and pretty good software. As long as those are competitive with other manufacturers Apple sits pretty.

  10. I thought Comcast was legally committed to honoring Net Neutrality due to an agreement they had to sign in order to buy NBC and all it’s properties.

    I wonder if the streaming problems in the article are actually due to inadequate infrastructure or capacity.

  11. There is a side of this I’m surprised no one has noticed or, at least mentioned. Content producers should also be worried because if this merger is allowed, the next time Comcast/Universal/Time Warner tells ESPN/Disney/NFL Network to lower their prices, it may not be the cable provider who is brought to their knees. Such a scenario could potentially benefit those wanting á là carte pricing on with their Applr TV. But I wouldn’t hold my breath for this because there has YET to be a mega-merger that delivered on its promise of lowering prices long-term to the benefit of the consumer.

  12. The ones to worry about are NOT the cable companies, worry about the local, state & fed Government that restricts internet & cable competition. Open it up and the prices will drop – the speeds will increase.
    Works every time it’s tried.

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