Getting rid of your cable subscriptions was supposed to save us all tons of money, not to mention utterly reshape how TV gets made. Things aren't entirely playing out that way, and they're about to get more complicated. Case in point: This week, a federal judge gave the go-ahead for AT&T to buy up Time Warner.
TechHive blogger Jared Newman covered the development for his column Cord Cutter Confidential. The merger had been in limbo thanks to the size and reach of both companies: AT&T offers internet and TV services, while Time Warner produces media. Experts have worried that combining two giants in their respective arenas would create monopoly conditions, leading to decreased consumer choice and increased risk of corporate bulldozing.
Lawyers convinced the judiciary that the merged companies' size would be a feature, not a bug. When your competition is the likes of Netflix, you need as much weight as you can muster. The deal isn't finalized yet, but Newman has some ideas about what the future could hold for consumers.
First, it is likely that a new streaming service for Time Warner-owned content will launch, and that existing AT&T customers may get it rolled in with their existing subscriptions. It may even lower prices for a while. But services like Hulu and smaller options may also start to struggle as well-monied suppliers fight each other for customers. It's also got troubling implications for net neutrality, which officially died earlier this week. Whether AT&T will start delivering Time Warner content more quickly or at lower cost to its internet subscribers, it's all worth watching. The test cases for the future of television are happening now.