With the exception of Comcast’s Brian Roberts, all the big names in cable were on stage together this morning at the Internet & Television Expo.
So it was no real surprise when moderator CNBC’s Julia Boorstin made her initial question one about consolidation in the industry.
Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus – who last month was jilted at the altar by Comcast’s Roberts – politely demurred to comment, saying he and TWC were focusing on the future and building TWC.
Charter CEO Tom Rutledge, who has reportedly set up a meeting with Marcus to discuss a resumed courtship (Charter was TWC’s initial suitor before Comcast swooped in), drew a big laugh from the audience when he replied: “The world’s full of possibilities, but I can’t tell you any of them.”
But Cablevision’s Jim Dolan didn’t hold back, offering a little sugar to Marcus and any of the other CEOs whose companies brush up against Cablevision in the Tri-State area.
His woo? Target market, not national consolidation.
Dolan said he’d love to have a conversation with Marcus about TWC’s business in New York City, and Comcast, too, saying, “Consolidation of that marketplace would provide a great deal of ingenuity and much more access to resources for the customers and lower prices.”
Cablevision shares moved up 6% after his comments, with investors thinking Dolan was making a veiled offer that he’d be willing to talk with TWC about a merger.
Dolan said if the market weren’t so fragmented, an operator would be able to distribute WiFi throughout the entire marketplace and create consistency in how customers are served by broadband.
Rutledge pointed out that before the Comcast deal was killed, Charter, TWC and Comcast had agreed on a complex customer swap that would have resulted in more homogeneous service areas, a plan that created efficiencies lacking in the current configuration.