Charter, Comcast to double-team Time Warner Cable buyout bid?

Looking to buy a rival and avoid scrutiny from regulatory bodies?

You might try the strategy Comcast and Charter Communications reportedly are pondering in their pursuit of Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second-largest cable operator.

In what best could be described as “turnabout is fair play,” Bloomberg reports the two are weighing a joint bid for mutually exclusive pieces of the perceived-to-be vulnerable service provider. Back in 2006 Time Warner Cable joined Comcast in acquiring — and dividing the spoils — of Adelphia Communications.

A joint bid for pieces of TWC would help move the industry down the path of consolidation, a drive that has begun to gain momentum, especially with the backing of Liberty Global Chief John Malone, and would be less likely to trigger the interest of the Federal Communications Commission.

Why has consolidation become more important of late?

Much of it has to do with pay-TV operators looking to regain some leverage they feel they’ve lost to content owners in regards to the cost of content. Conventional wisdom says a larger buyer — Comcast already is No. 1 in terms of subscribers in the U.S. and a deal to for parts of TWC would give it even more clout, and Charter is seen as newly energized since adding former Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge as its CEO in 2011.

Content owners and distributors, meanwhile, aren’t sitting still waiting for the other shoe to drop. They’re looking to increase their own abilities to monetize content, whether its by going over-the-top directly to consumers, offering exclusive content that might not be offered to pay-TV subscribers or by using detailed analytics to better targeting audiences for increased advertising impact and even more sophisticated content creation.

A recent IDC white paper shows how marketers are using digital video to tell their brand story, increase sales, and turn customers into fans. The researcher found it was critical for content owners and broadcasters hoping to engage a connected audience effectively to use digital video, forecasting that almost two-thirds of worldwide Internet users will watch video online by 2017.

IDC pointed out that it would be increasingly critical to publish and deliver content to all channels, i.e. Web, mobile, connected devices and social media, and that publishers ran the risk of losing audience if they didn’t do all aspects well.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn