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Charter (CHTR) and Tribune Media's Price Negotiations Fail

Zacks Equity Research

Charter’s CHTR Spectrum customers in the United States will not have access to Tribune Media’s TRCO channels as the retransmission agreement between the two companies failed to take off.

About six million subscribers in 24 markets will lose access to content such as local news, sports and entertainment provided by Tribune Media’s 33 local channels. Additionally, 14 million subscribers in the country will not have access to WGN America and other programming such as Pure and Elementary.

Charter and Tribune Media failed to negotiate over retransmission price. Notably, Tribune Media demanded twice the price for the same content, which Charter found to be unreasonable.

The programming blackout comes at a time when highly-anticipated college basketball games and National Football League (NFL) playoffs are expected to kick off. However, Charter has assured its users that most of Tribune Media’s programming is available for free on the Internet, per Deadline.

Charter Communications, Inc. Revenue (TTM)

Charter Communications, Inc. Revenue (TTM) | Charter Communications, Inc. Quote

Diversified Portfolio to Aid Charter’s Top Line

Charter is benefiting from a diversified portfolio that not only includes video and voice services but also Internet. Notably, Charter gained 266,000 residential Internet customers in third-quarter 2018, taking the total count to 23.3 million, up 4.9% year over year.

Additionally, the company has boosted its Internet service speed to attract new customers. Charter has doubled Internet speed to 200 Mbps for new and existing Spectrum Internet customers at no extra cost in 40% of its market.

Charter is also taking various initiatives to make its Spectrum products attractive by offering better prices to its customers, thereby lowering churn rate. Notably, 67% of new residential customers chose the Spectrum package in third-quarter 2018, up 8.1% sequentially.

Moreover, Charter is expected to benefit from the launch of Spectrum Mobile service under mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) reseller agreement with Verizon VZ.  The company’s partnership with Comcast CMCSA to develop back-end software to support services for Xfinity mobile offering is also positive.

Further, Charter’s all-digital initiative to switch traditional cable television signals to digital is expected to help the company in providing better quality content, high Internet speed and on-demand content. Management noted that its all-digital initiative, which was completed in 2018, is expected to drive the top line and improve operational efficiency.

Charter currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) Stocks here.

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