Verizon has recently struck up a $21 million deal with the NFL to acquire the exclusive streaming right to next season’s week three match-up between the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game will be played at London’s Wembley Stadium. The game will be distributed through three of Verizon’s subsidiaries; its AOL platform, its mobile video service go90, and site oriented towards the young male audience called Complex. Verizon will have exclusive global rights to the game, except in Jacksonville and Baltimore territory, where the game will viewable via local cable.
In February, Time Warner stockholders passed a vote in favor of the company’s proposed merger with AT&T. AT&T will acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion. The argument that both of these companies are making in favor of this merger is that it is a vertical acquisition, meaning that the two companies are not direct competitors. This argument is how both companies plan on fending off the Department of Justice.
My point in citing both of these recent events is that the telecommunications industry, similar to other industries in the American economy, is becoming completely monopolized. Verizon has exclusive global streaming right to an NFL game next season. The millions of NFL fans in the US have no choice but to use Verizon’s services to watch a football game. Also, take a look at the different technological vehicles Verizon is using to stream the game. I remember being a first-grader and having my parents describe to me what email was, showing me their AOL address. Verizon began as a mobile phone company and has expanded into something that basically no consumer can avoid using.
In addition, AT&T’s merger with Time Warner is problematic for American consumers. I agree that AT&T and Time Warner are not direct competitors, but AT&T is a telecommunications company, and Time Warner is a cable company. AT&T is a distributor of cable television, also known as Time Warner. This cannot be good for consumers. Saying that this merger is acceptable because the acquisition is vertical is picking the lesser of two evils. Two competitors merging, or a distributor merging with a distribution company is bad for consumers either way.
My general point is that telecommunications firms continue to grow. The more they grow, I think, the worse off we all are as consumers. As the world continues to become more and more invaded by technology, these firms will expand their size and power, and we will be at their will.