Soon you’ll have a new cable company to hate. It’ll take some practice, but in time you’ll get used to swearing at Spectrum.
Time Warner Cable, the largest cable provider in New York and Los Angeles, among other markets, was just bought by Charter Communications Inc., which has mostly operated in the Midwest. The Stamford, Connecticut-based company also bought Bright House Networks on Wednesday. That makes Charter the second-largest home Internet provider and third-largest video provider in the US. Over the next year and a half, Charter will phase out the Time Warner Cable and Bright House names in favour of its own brand, Spectrum.
That might be a good move. According to the branding firm Landor, consumers don’t like Time Warner as much as competitors Comcast, Verizon Fios and Xfinity.
New Spectrum subscribers will probably like some things. Charter will continue trying to boost internet speeds and won’t have usage-based billing or caps on how much data customers can use. Its prices are generally lower than Time Warner Cable’s, and Charter says it will use its size to negotiate better deals with channel owners.
But over time, bills are likely to keep rising. The merger means Spectrum will have even less competition to keep prices down. Many of Time Warner’s cheaper deals, which offer slower internet speeds, will go away. Costs for cable companies are still rising because they pay high prices for the rights to carry channels on cable lineups, and those increases get passed on to consumers.
Those kind of annoyances make complaining about cable companies a fact of life for a lot of people. From rising bills to unexplained outages to long hold times on the phone and lengthy and long waits for service, there’s always something to keep customers unhappy with their provider. Time Warner, which tried to merge with also-hated Comcast in 2015, had been acknowledging that lately. Its ads last year nodded toward typical cable company shortcomings, and in recent weeks the company has run an ad campaign that says it’s “Changing for Good”. The ads say its service has improved and 99% of its technicians arrive within the one-hour appointment window consumers are given.
Tom Sepanski, Landor’s regional director for North America naming and verbal identity, said Charter could reap big benefits if the name change comes with an improvement in customer service and other areas where Time Warner was perceived as falling short. But Sepanski, a former New York resident who called Time Warner Cable “terrible,” said that without those kind of changes, a different name won’t matter much.
“A name change is going to be met with a lot of scepticism,” he said. “It’s not enough. They’re going to have to back it up.”