Even as we speak, regulators are currently scrutinizing Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable to be sure it's in the consumers' interest. To help address any anti-competitive concerns, Comcast has offered to shed 3.9 million subscribers. And today, we found out just a bit more about Comcast's plan for some of those customers.
For months, Comcast has been talking about spinning off 2.5 million subscribers into a separate company called, appropriately, SpinCo. But that was just a placeholder name. On Wednesday, Comcast announced that the new firm would be known as GreatLand Connections.
If Comcast's merger with TWC is approved, GreatLand would become the fifth-largest cable company in the United States. Two-thirds of it would be owned by Comcast shareholders, and a third of it would belong to Charter (currently the third-largest U.S. cable company after TWC). Here's what GreatLand's coverage area would look like, according to papers Comcast filed to the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year. The Comcast customers who would become part of GreatLand are shaded in neon green (the map is still using the SpinCo label):
The remaining 1.4 million customers Comcast plans to shed would be traded to Charter for cash. One caveat with regard to the map, which was referred to me by a Comcast spokeswoman: The GreatLand announcement makes mention of 11 states that would be covered by the new company. The map, however, only appears to cover eight states. I've asked Comcast for clarification on this point and I'll update if and when they get back to me. (Update: The list of states includes Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.)
While the creation of a new cable company introduces another player to the industry, the joint ownership structure and the non-overlapping coverage areas suggest GreatLand won't actually be competing with Comcast or Charter. Still, Comcast is hoping that this and other concessions will be enough to mollify federal regulators. My colleague Cecilia Kang reports that it's looking likely the deal will pass.