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WHAT MAKES TOP SEVEN MSOS TICK ROAD MAP OF HOW THE CABLE HIGHWAY INTERCONNECTS

Published on .

To maximize profits, cable companies are looking to consolidate programming and content; acquire various avenues of packaging, marketing and distribution; and control the channels, networks and fiber optic highways on which their properties will travel. It all amounts to a vertical integration of components necessary for providing information and entertainment to the consumer.

Although some industry insiders express cynicism toward the efficiency and effectivity of such synergies, the phone, cable and media companies continue to court one another in search of a winning combination.

Advertising Age intern Kim Cleland compiled a list of the various linkups made to date by the seven leading U.S. cable operators:

Tele-Communications Inc.

(Liberty Media)

Multiple Systems Operator rank: 1

15.2 million subscribers

1,221 cable systems

Joint ventures:

VCTV: In 1991, TCI entered into a project with AT&T Co. and U S West to test market "viewer-controlled cable television" in Boulder, Colo.

Sega Channel: Partnership with Sega Enterprises and Time Warner

Music/shopping channel: Partnership with Bertlesmann Music Group

Zing: Partner in this interactive system, scheduled for launch in early 1995

Full Service Network compatibility: TCI and Time Warner are working together to develop and install compatible hardware and software for two-way interactive cable systems

Microsoft and TCI to create a programming service on the PC market and will explore interactive applications for PCs via cable, including an on-line service. The cable channel is scheduled to launch in 18 months in Denver and Seattle

Broadband America: a joint venture among TCI, Time Warner, Continental, Comcast and Cox to explore telephone-related services and develop new telecommunications service using digital video, fiber optics and wireless technologies. The venture will focus on energy management, data communications and competitive access services. All five companies are also partners in Teleport Communications Group, an alternative phone carrier

Programming interests:

BET, TBS, Court TV, Discovery, Encore, Family Channel, HSN, TLC, Prime Sports Channel Network, QVC, Reiss Media, Request TV, E! Entertainment, Interactive Network, Pennsylvania Educational Communications System, QE+, Republic Pictures TV, Rocky Mountain Prime Sports, STT Video Partners, LP, Sunshine Network, AMC, Home Team Sports, Satellite Sports Network, Video Jukebox, Faith & Healing Channel

Other services:

Data: Owns Xpress and Xchange, which distribute computer software services via satellite

Satellite carrier: Owns Southern Satellite, which transmits WTBS

Direct broadcast satellite: Partner in Primestar

Home satellite dish programming: Owns Netlink USA, the nation's largest provider of cable programming to home satellite dish owners

Advertising: Owns Cable AdNet Partners

Pay-per-view: TCI-Carolco Pictures agreement will allow TCI to show four films on PPV before theatrical release

Audio: Owns Digital Music Express

Time Warner

MSO rank: 2

7.2 million cable subscribers

272 cable systems

Joint ventures:

U S West is investing $2.5 billion for a 25.5% stake in Time Warner Entertainment

Time Warner will participate in Nynex's

video dial tone system

Spiegel Inc. and Time Warner to launch two cable home shopping channels, including one that is interactive, next year

Programming interests:

Cartoon Network, CNN, Headline News, TBS, TNT, Cinemax, Comedy Central, Court TV, E! Entertainment, HBO, QVC, QVC Fashion, Viewers' Choice Group, New York 1 News, Sunshine Network

Other services:

Partner in Primestar

Digital Cable Radio

Parent company operations:

Book publishing: Six companies including Little, Brown & Co., Warner Books and Time-Life

Magazines: 30 magazines including Time, People and Fortune

Music group: Comprises Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Recording Group, Elektra Entertainment and Warner Music International

Film distribution: Warner Bros.

Television distribution: Warner Bros. Television, Warner Bros. Animation and Lorimar Television

Theme parks: Six Flags

Retail stores: 21 Warner Bros. Studio Stores

Continental Cablevision

MSO Rank: 3

3 million subscribers

128 cable systems

Joint ventures:

Partner in interactive system Zing

Performance International Systems agreement allows Continental subscribers Internet access

Programming interests:

CNN, TBS, QVC, QVC Fashion, Headline News, TNT, Viewers' Choice, Cartoon Network, E! Entertainment, TV FoodNetwork, Home Shopping Network, Prime Sport Upper Midwest, New England Cable News and Sunshine Network

Other services:

Partner in Primestar

Digital Cable Radio

Comcast

4

2.9 million subscribers

62 cable systems

Joint ventures:

Partner in interactive Zing system

Programming interests:

CNN, TBS, Viewers' Choice, Headline News, TNT, E! Entertainment, Cartoon Network, QVC, QVC Fashion, Sunshine Network

Other services:

Subsidiary of American Cellular also has stake in Nextel, mobile radio company

Partner in Primestar

Digital Cable Radio

Owns Muzak

Cablevision Systems Corp.

MSO Rank: 5

2.3 million subscribers

60 cable systems

Joint ventures:

TV Macy's, a joint venture with R.H. Macy & Co. to develop a 24-hour home shopping channel

Programming interests:

AMC, Bravo, Court TV, SportsChannels, Romance Classics, Prime Sports Channel Classics, News 12 Long Island and Prism

Cox Cable

MSO Rank: 6

1.8 million subscribers

25 cable systems

Joint ventures:

Bell South and Cox Enterprises to develop and market electronic information services, which will be offered over telephone lines, based on newspaper classifieds and Yellow Pages

Cox's newspapers will be offered via Prodigy

Cox Broadcast bought Rysher Entertainment (a TV production company) and Rysher merged with Television Program Enterprises

Programming interests:

Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, Viewers' Choice, E! Entertainment

San Diego Sports Network and Sunshine Network

Other services:

Partner in Primestar

Digital Cable Radio

Parent company operations:

Seven broadcast TV stations, 13 radio stations, 16 dailies and 10 weeklies in the U.S. and has a 12.5% stake in Poland's largest newspaper

Jones Intercable

MSO Rank: 7

1.3 million subscribers

109 cable systems

Programming interests:

CNN, TBS, Jones Computer Network, Headline News, TNT, Cartoon Network

Mind Extension University, a 24-hour education network

Other services:

Affiliate Film Productions: Jones Entertainment Group produces made-for-cable movies

Telephone connections

Southwestern Bell: Bought two Hauser Communications Systems and 40% of Cox Cable

U S West: bought 25.5% of Time Warner ($2.5 billion)

Bell South: 22.5% of Prime Cable ($250 million)

Bell Canada (pending): 30% of Jones Intercable (Bell Canada to invest $400 million)

Nynex: 5% of Viacom International, Blockbuster, Paramount Communications ($1.2 billion)

Bell Atlantic: 42% of Grupo-Iusacell, Mexico's second-largest cellular phone company ($1.04 billion)

AT&T Co.: Bought McCaw Cellular ($12.6 billion)

British Telecom: Bought 20% of MCI Communications ($4.3 billion)

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