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TheStreet Open House

Cable TV Will Soon Resemble a Sushi Menu

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What's the biggest complaint of cable and satellite customers?

I have to pay all of this money for a whole bunch of channels I don't even watch.

That era's about to come to an end after approval of the Time Warner Cable (TWC - Get Report)/Comcast (CMCSA - Get Report) deal.

The combined company has unprecedented leverage over cable networks.

If you're Time Warner's (TWX - Get Report) Home Box Office (HBO) or Disney's (DIS - Get Report) ESPN you have very little, if anything, to worry about.

That's because not only do subscribers want your programming, there would be massive cries of outrage if it was taken away or somehow messed with. The deals between these desirable networks consumers don't mind paying for and TWC/CMCSA will roll on unfettered.

However, if you're a network riding piggy back on your conglomerate's premier networks ... if you're a network subscribers subscribe to only because it comes as part of their bloated package, you're screwed.

Expect what DIRECTV (DTV - Get Report) did to The Weather Channel to happen 100 times over.

Consider CNN.

At this point, it has some life left. However, if it becomes much more irrelevant than it is now, it's parent company, Time Warner, loses all leverage when it negotiates with the TWC/CMCSA behemoth. It could end up The Weather Channel of news.

DIRECTV dropped The Weather Channel and nobody blinked an eye. That's because the notion of a 24-hour weather channel, without any other compelling content (though they tried to add some), has become obsolete. You pull out your phone, tap the screen and, within five seconds, you have all the weather information you could possibly need. Even in severe weather situations.

And, really, why should a cable or satellite provider waste time and resources on rebroadcasting what amounts to a useless signal?

In an age where we can access an unprecedented amount of news the same way we do weather, cable news networks must differentiate themselves in one way or another or they risk going the way of The Weather Channel.

Say what you want about the bi-partisan hackery of Twenty-First Century Fox's (FOX - Get Report) Fox News or NBCUniversal's MSNBC, but they, along with, say, Viacom's (VIAB - Get Report) Comedy Central, have carved out niches for themselves in the infotainment space.

If one or the other went away, there'd be outrage.

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CMCSA $55.94 0.05%
DTV $85.32 -0.47%
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