For the first time, the leading cable TV operators’ broadband business edged out its TV figures last quarter, says a new report from the Leichtman Research Group.
On the surface, the difference looks tiny—49,915,000 Internet subscribers versus 49,910,000 TV customers—but it’s a significant and definitive tipping point. Those Internet pipes are sure to become even more important as time goes on, much to the relief of cable providers watching streaming services chip away at their core service.
And what a secondary business online service has turned out to be. You’d be hard-pressed these days to find anyone who doubts that the future runs on Internet. Something has to feed all those streaming boxes, gaming consoles, smart home gadgets and laptops, after all. And cable companies are right there to control those pipes (for a healthy fee, of course).
Recode points out that broadband may be the real reason Comcast wants to buy Time Warner Cable. The former argues that the deal would only put 30% of the nation’s cable business under its control—not significant enough to raise concerns. What should is that the deal would lump together a bigger share of the broadband market—as much as 40%. Comcast, of course, tries to downplay that, saying in June that it’s more like 35%.
Either way, traditional TV entertainment just got definitively upstaged. We brace ourselves now, waiting to see how the cable giants turn more of their attention to the bigger business of controlling our data pipes.
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