Apple Requires Comcast and Charter to Sell iPads and Apple TVs as Part of iPhone Deal

As part of the deal allowing cable companies Comcast and Charter to sell iPhones for their respective mobile services, Apple has required them to also sell large numbers of other devices, reports CNBC.

Both Comcast and Charter have wireless services as part of an MVNO agreement with Verizon. Comcast offers Xfinity Mobile with approximately 1.5 million subscribers, while Charter offers Spectrum Mobile with approximately 300,000 subscribers.


The two cable companies wanted to be able to offer the iPhone in an effort to better compete with the four major carriers in the United States -- Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile -- and as part of the deal allowing Comcast and Charter to sell iPhones, Apple made them agree to sell other devices too.

The iPhone's popularity made it impossible for Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile to compete without offering it, according to CNBC's sources, which meant Apple had "ample leverage" in deal negotiations.

Specific terms of the two deals are not known, but Comcast is required to sell a certain number of iPads, which CNBC says is in the thousands, at a subsidized cost. Comcast is required to pay the difference between the discounted price and the retail price.

Comcast offers the cellular 6th-generation iPad for $422.99, a discount from the standard $459 price. Comcast also sells cellular versions of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, the 10.5-inch iPad Air, and the 7.9-inch iPad mini, all at discounted prices.

Subscribers are promised a $15 per month credit applied to their monthly statement for any iPad purchased.

Charter's deal is different and involves the Apple TV, which Charter offers as an alternative to a traditional cable box.
Charter sells Apple TVs at $7.50 per month for 24 months - or $180, the retail cost of an Apple TV. Alternatively, a customer can lease a Charter set-top box for $7.50 per month. In other words, Charter offers an Apple TV at the same price as a Charter set-top box, but a customer ends up owning the Apple TV and returning the Charter box. Charter has become the largest third-party seller of Apple TVs because of the agreement, two of the people said.
According to CNBC, there are benefits in these deals for Comcast and Charter beyond being able to offer the iPhone. iPads and Apple Watches "enhance the value" of the Comcast wireless service, and the Apple TV offers a better navigation interface for Charter customers.

Many of Apple's carrier partners around the world also sell Apple devices other the iPhone, much like Charter and Comcast.

Tag: Comcast

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Disney Gains Full Control of Hulu Following Deal With Comcast

Disney has slowly been acquiring a larger stake in Hulu, most recently thanks to its acquisition of certain assets owned by 20th Century Fox. According to Variety, today Disney has "full operational control" of Hulu thanks to a new deal with Comcast.

The deal's terms state that Comcast will retain its 33 percent ownership interest in Hulu through January 2024, after which time either side can demand that the sale of Comcast's Hulu stake go through.


Comcast's NBCUniversal division will continue to license content to Hulu through late 2024. However, the deal includes a few stipulations: as soon as 2020, NBCUniversal will have the right to pull programming that was previously exclusive to Hulu, and by 2022 NBCUniversal will be able to cancel most of its content-licensing agreements with Hulu.

Like most other companies, NBCUniversal has plans to launch its own streaming service within the next few years. The Comcast/Disney deal today includes an arrangement where NBCUniversal will be able to keep its shows on Hulu on a nonexclusive basis (with a reduced licensing fee), while also streaming them on its new service.

As it stands, Hulu today is a platform with content from a wide array of content providers, which upload episodes of TV shows as early as the day after they air on cable. In the past, Disney has said that it plans to keep Hulu as it is and focus its own properties on the Disney+ streaming service. According to CEO Bob Iger, Disney's full ownership of Hulu will create an "even more compelling" service.
“We are now able to completely integrate Hulu into our direct-to-consumer business and leverage the full power of The Walt Disney Company’s brands and creative engines to make the service even more compelling and a greater value for consumers,” Disney chairman/CEO Bob Iger said in a statement about the pact.
For its main streaming service, Disney has announced that Disney+ will launch this November for $6.99 per month. It will include exclusive original series like "The Mandalorian," and various TV shows based on Marvel and Pixar properties.


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Comcast Launches New $5 Month Ad-Supported Streaming TV Service

Just ahead of when Apple plans to launch a new subscription video service that will give customers access to bundled cable channels, Comcast has introduced Xfinity Flex, a streaming service that combines video on demand content, ad-supported, free live streaming content, and access to add-on subscription apps.

Xfinity Flex is priced at $5 per month and is available to customers who subscribe to Comcast's Xfinity internet service. It comes with a 4K set-top box and X1 voice remote for accessing content.


Comcast says that thousands of free movies and shows will be offered, with free content from Tubi TV, YouTube, Xumo, Pluto TV, and more offered alongside subscription content from apps like Netflix, HBO, EPIX, and Prime Video. It will also be paired with podcasts and music services from Pandora, iHeart Radio, NPR One, among others.

The app will have an interface that's not unlike the interface of the Apple TV, with a content library, access to a "Watch" section for TV content, a listen section for music, and an apps section for accessing different apps and home WiFi settings.
"Xfinity Flex will deepen our relationship with a certain segment of our Internet customers and provide them with real value," said Matt Strauss, Executive Vice President, Xfinity Services for Comcast Cable. "For just five dollars a month, we can offer these customers an affordable, flexible, and differentiated platform that includes thousands of free movies and shows for online streaming, an integrated guide for accessing their favorite apps and connected home devices, and the ease of navigating and managing all of it with our voice remote."
Comcast plans to allow customers to subscribe to third-party video services through its platform, which is something that Apple is also going to offer with its own streaming service.

According to Comcast, more than 10,000 free online movies and TV shows will be included alongside the streaming services that its customers subscribe to, along with options to purchase and rent movies and TV shows.

Comcast plans to make Xfinity Flex available to Comcast subscribers on March 26. It will be available to residential customers who have internet service with 25Mb/s or above that's compatible with xFi gate.

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Comcast Used ‘0000’ as Default PIN for Xfinity Mobile Customers, Leaving Them Vulnerable to Hacking

Comcast's Xfinity Mobile service used "0000" as a default PIN for all of its mobile customers, which left them vulnerable to hacking attempts, identity theft, and more.

Comcast's decision to use simple default PINs for all of its customers came to light in a "Help Desk" article from The Washington Post included one Comcast customer's tech horror story.


Larry Whitted, an Xfinity Customer in California, had someone hijack his phone number, port it to a new account on another network, and steal his identity to commit fraud.

The thief put Samsung Pay on a new phone with Whitted's phone number and credit card then bought himself a computer at the Apple Store.

This was possible because Comcast does not ask its customers to create a PIN to secure their accounts to prevent them from being transferred to another carrier. Instead, Comcast uses the default 0000 code. From Comcast's support document:
We don't require you to create an account PIN, so you don't need to provide that information to your new carrier.

Taking control of a person's telephone number is a popular way to obtain logins for email, social media accounts, bank accounts, and more. Any site that uses a phone number as a way of authenticating data can be accessed when someone has your phone number.

Charismatic hackers who use social engineering techniques can often get access to phone numbers from customer service representatives who don't know any better, but many carriers have implemented PIN codes to make it more difficult. Not Comcast.

This has led to other Xfinity Mobile customers having their phone numbers hijacked as well, and with phone numbers used for so much, hackers can access a lot of a person's data.

Comcast says that it has since implemented new measures to make it harder to steal phone numbers and that it is "working aggressively" to create a PIN-based solution, something that common sense dictates should have been available from the time the service launched.

Comcast says that a "very small number" of its customers have been impacted by this issue, and rightly admits that having even "one customer impacted" is "one too many." Comcast claims that customers who were affected perhaps used passwords leaked in other data breaches

Tag: Comcast

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Comcast Bows Out of Competition for Fox, CEO Congratulates Disney as Bidding War Ends

After a summer of back-and-forth bids between Comcast and Disney for select entertainment assets owned by 21st Century Fox, Comcast today confirmed that it is bowing out of the bidding war for Fox. The company says the move is to instead focus on acquiring European satellite TV provider Sky, another much-sought-after entertainment company that is seeing interest from the likes of Comcast, Fox, and Disney (via Variety).


For the purchase of 21st Century Fox, this means that Disney is now expected to finally win the bid and close out the acquisition deal in the near future. The most recent steps in that process saw Disney and Fox agree to a $71.3 billion cash and stock deal, which has now also been approved by the Department of Justice on the condition that Disney sells off 22 regional Fox sports networks.

In the announcement confirming that it will not place another bid on Fox, Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts congratulated Disney and its CEO Bob Iger:
“Comcast does not intend to pursue further the acquisition of the Twenty-First Century Fox assets and, instead, will focus on our recommended offer for Sky,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

Brian L. Roberts, Comcast chairman-CEO, added: “I’d like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company.”
Disney originally announced interest in acquiring 21st Century Fox last December, starting its bidding at $52.4 billion in stock before Comcast forced it to increase the amount and introduce a cash component. Once the acquisition is final, Disney will own Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television Studios and Fox-related cable and international TV businesses.

At the time, Disney leadership said that the new Fox assets will build on the company's "commitment to deliver the highest quality branded entertainment," as well as fuel its ability to "create more appealing content." The company also referenced its intent to deliver a "more compelling" entertainment experience to Disney consumers "whenever and however" they choose.

Disney said that the Fox assets would accelerate its use of certain technologies, including the recently acquired BAMTech platform, which it aims to use for its solo-streaming service. With the acquisition, Disney will immediately gain a large stable of old and new television shows and movies to populate its upcoming streaming service, expected to launch in 2019 and compete with Apple's own streaming TV service.


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Disney Outbids Comcast for Fox’s Assets With $71.3 Billion Cash and Stock Deal

21st Century Fox and the Walt Disney Company today announced a new deal that increases the value of Disney's original December 2017 offer from $28 a share at $52.4 billion to $38 a share at $71.3 billion, with a new cash component. This agreement "is superior to the proposal" from Comcast made earlier this month, according to an unnamed representative speaking for Fox (via The Wall Street Journal).


Additionally, the new Fox-Disney deal states that Fox shareholders will be able to receive their consideration "in the form of cash or stock," subject to 50/50 proration. The updated deal comes six months after Disney first announced its intent to acquire certain parts of 21st Century Fox, including Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television Studios, Fox-related cable and international TV businesses, and Fox's 30 percent stake in Hulu, among other assets.

Comcast entered as a competitor earlier in June at $35 per share for a total of $65 billion -- an offer that Disney has now beat. Fox has mentioned in the past that talks with Disney were more advanced than any other potential buyer, and it appears that the two companies are trying to work out a deal that values Fox's assets in the wake of Comcast's increased bid.

Nothing is finalized yet, however, and if shareholders are thought to be favoring a cash-heavy deal, people familiar with the matter told WSJ that Disney is "in position to inject cash into its offer."
Some Fox shareholders might prefer a premium cash offer like the one Comcast is offering, even though the capital gains would be taxable. Other shareholders, particularly the large institutional shareholders that are Fox’s biggest investors, tend to care much less about taxes, Mr. Willens added.
With either company, the deal will have to face regulatory hurdles and get approved by the Justice Department. However, Comcast waited to make its bid on Fox until a U.S. District Court Judge approved of the merger between AT&T and Time Warner, which set a precedent for similar cases. According to Comcast, the court's approval should "nullify" any of Fox's regulatory concerns, which is the reason Fox rejected Comcast's original offer in April 2018.


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Comcast Outbids Disney for Fox’s Assets With $65 Billion All-Cash Offer

Just a day after a U.S. District Judge approved the upcoming merger between AT&T and Time Warner, Comcast has submitted a bid for 21st Century Fox's TV and film assets, reports CNBC.

Comcast has presented Fox with an all-cash offer at $35 per share for a total of $65 billion, which beats out Disney's stock-based $52.4 billion deal. 21st Century Fox has already moved forward on a deal with Disney, but Comcast is aiming to change the minds of Fox's board members. From the letter sent to Fox's board by Brian Roberts, Comcast CEO.

So, we were disappointed when 21CF decided to enter into a transaction with The Walt Disney Company, even though we had offered a meaningfully higher price. We have reviewed the publicly available terms of the proposed Disney transaction, as well as the joint proxy statement/prospectus filed with the SEC describing the reasons for the 21CF Board of Directors' decision.

In light of yesterday's decision in the AT&T/Time Warner case, the limited time prior to your shareholders' meeting, and our strong continued interest, we are pleased to present a new, all-cash proposal that fully addresses the Board's stated concerns with our prior proposal.

Our new proposal offers 21CF shareholders $35.00 per share in cash and 100% of the shares of New Fox after giving effect to its proposed spinoff, providing superior and more certain value as compared to Disney's all-stock offer.
Comcast first announced its plans to make a bid on 20th Century Fox, 20th Century Fox Television, several Fox-owned cable channels, and a stake in Hulu back in May, but the company was waiting on a final antitrust ruling in the AT&T/Time Warner merger. It was believed that if the ruling had not been in AT&T's favor, that Comcast would have backed off of its efforts to outbid Disney.

Both Disney and Comcast are interested in Fox's assets to expand their reach beyond the United States and to stock their streaming catalogs with Fox content, which includes movies like Avatar, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Titanic, Miracle on 34th Street, The Shape of Water, and Gone Girl.


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Comcast Confirms Plans to Outbid Disney for Fox’s Assets With ‘Superior’ All-Cash Offer

Last December, The Walt Disney Company outlined plans to acquire 21st Century Fox and a collection of its subsidiaries for $52.4 billion in stock. Those plans have been under regulatory scrutiny for months and have yet to be finalized, and now Comcast has confirmed it is in "advanced stages" of sending Fox a "superior" all-cash offer in hopes of besting Disney's all-share offer (via Bloomberg).

Previous reports about Comcast's potential bid also referenced an all-cash deal, and put an estimate above Disney's to as much as $60 billion in cash from Comcast for the designated Fox assets. Comcast's press release today does not disclose an offer amount, but the company says the structure and terms of any offer would be "at least as favorable to Fox shareholders as the Disney offer."


Comcast says that its work to finance the offer for some of Fox's assets is "well advanced," and the company has already prepared to file key regulatory statements. Of course, no final decision has yet been made, but analyst Daniel Ives notes that, "If Comcast won these assets from the arms of Disney, it would be a devastating blow to [Disney CEO] Bob Iger."
In view of the recent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by The Walt Disney Company (“Disney”) and Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. (“Fox”) in preparation for their upcoming shareholder meetings to consider the acquisition of Fox by Disney, Comcast Corporation (“Comcast”) confirms that it is considering, and is in advanced stages of preparing, an offer for the businesses that Fox has agreed to sell to Disney (which do not include the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company and certain other assets).

Any offer for Fox would be all-cash and at a premium to the value of the current all-share offer from Disney. The structure and terms of any offer by Comcast, including with respect to both the spin-off of “New Fox” and the regulatory risk provisions and the related termination fee, would be at least as favorable to Fox shareholders as the Disney offer.
As of now, recent reports have stated that the Comcast/Fox offer's final fate may rely on the government's decision regarding AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner. Similar to AT&T owning DirecTV, Comcast owns NBCUniversal, and both companies are looking into purchasing large TV programming entities.

Because of this, it's believed Comcast will take a wait-and-see approach, and if a U.S. judge rules against AT&T on antitrust grounds in a trial coming next month, Comcast is expected to back off of Fox's assets. If AT&T wins the case and Comcast moves forward with a bid, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Paul Sweeney says the Disney vs. Comcast bidding war would be intense: "Disney is likely to put up quite a fight."

Disney and Comcast are looking at Fox's entertainment assets in hopes of expanding their reach outside of the United States, as well as stocking their streaming back catalogs with a quick rush of content. Movie assets that either company could gain from 21st Century Fox include Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, homes of movies like Avatar, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Deadpool, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Shape of Water, and Gone Girl.

For TV shows, Fox's TV production companies include Twentieth Century Fox Television, as well as FX Productions and Fox21, which bring viewers shows like The Simpsons, This Is Us, and The Americans. Notably, the winning bidder would gain Fox's 30 percent stake in Hulu, and if Disney acquires the company it would become a majority shareholder of the streaming service.


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