The Future of HBO NOW: Investigating the Effects of the Charter-Time Warner-Bright House Merger on Over-the-Top Services
22 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2016 Last revised: 30 Sep 2016
Date Written: April 20, 2016
This paper aims to examine the effects of media ownership concentration on over-the-top (OTT) services. To do so, it will examine the Time Warner-Charter-Bright House merger as a case study, as well as explore current regulation for OTT services, particularly as multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD), and compare concerns for OTT services that previous moves to consolidate media ownership, like the failed Comcast-Time Warner merger, raised. Specifically, this paper will examine the relationship of HBO and HBO NOW, as an OTT service, and potential impacts of the merger on such content. Charter has argued that the merger will not negatively affect OTT services and lauds their benefits to consumers. However, the argument from those who have voiced opposition to the merger suggest that Charter will restrict the distribution of OTT services in order to preserve the exclusivity of its content. The case of HBO NOW offers a unique position as it is selling their content directly to consumers as OTT but also continues to be included in cable bundles through its traditional HBO cable channels. This paper hopes to explore this tension within the context of the Time Warner-Charter-Bright House Merger in order to address the effects of media consolidation on innovation and consumers.
Including popular press, as well as press releases and blog posts from the relevant companies, data will be gathered from filings with the FCC, SEC, among other regulatory groups and activist organizations. This paper intends to conclude with a determination on how the merger might affect OTT services and a recommendation for changes to media law and policy on ownership in order to promote access to citizens, improve consumer welfare, and reduce barriers to entry in these media markets. The relationships explored in this paper between infrastructure, innovation, media ownership, and law and policy, are important sites of investigation – particularly for understanding how these forces impact citizens.
Keywords: Media Consolidation, Over The Top Services, Media Mergers
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