The long, strange trip of consolidation in the cable industry has produced a handful of mega cable operators -- and very few other players of note. Today, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Cox and Cablevision control a major chunk of the cable industry in the United States.
But that has not always been the case.
During the past 10 years, these five carriers have consumed a wide range of smaller, regional carriers, including major players like Optimum West, DukeNet and others. Of course, this merger-and-acquisition activity isn't unique to cable; virtually every other industry in the United States has evolved in a similar fashion. Indeed, the American Cable Association recently said that 1,078 small and rural cable systems serving 50,000 subscribers have shut down since 2008, primarily due to fast-increasing programming costs. The group also said that 47 cable operators shut down 91 systems serving 5,307 customers in 32 states in 2014 alone.
Nonetheless, it's worth taking a look back at the past 10 years to see exactly how we have arrived at this point in time. Today's cable industry looks much different than the one from 10 years ago, when the likes of Adelphia and Susquehanna still roamed the market.
So let's take a step back in time, when pay-TV was on the rise and the idea of streaming a video over a dial-up modem was a laughable proposition.
The below chart was created by Stacey Horne for FierceCable. It depicts the major acquisitions and mergers consummated by today's top five cable operators during the past 10 years. It is not a comprehensive list of all of the purchases made by the nation's top operators, but instead covers only their major transactions and the amount, when available. It also mentions a few major acquisitions that did not come to pass, such as Comcast's failed bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, as well as those that may still happen (like Charter's bid to acquire TWC and Bright House Networks). It also only covers deals that are directly applicable to the cable side of the telecommunications market. For details on the carriers' current subscriber totals, click here.
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