NuCable: “Company That’s About to Kill Cable Television”

Which company with a "Secret Silicon Valley Tunnel" is being teased by Dave Baumann for the Oxford Club?

Today’s teaser pitch is not new — I first saw this ad in April, 2014… and it’s been running off and on ever since, but we’ve gotten a lot of questions about it this week so we’re re-running it for you today. And I’ve left the comments from the original article at the end so you can see what your fellow readers were saying at the time.

What has changed since April of last year? Well, your top-secret “NuCable” company has indeed launched a somewhat more flexible cable subscription package this year — though that also got them sued by Disney’s ESPN, round one of a fight that will probably go on for quite some time… and despite that “revolutionary” move to kill cable television, the shares have not risen dramatically to “$100 to $150 to $185” as the ad teased back then (and continues to tease now), the stock is almost exactly where it was when this ad campaign started, just below $50.

Of course, it has also paid out $2.75 or so in dividends during that time, which is why most investors own the stock. Nothing to sneeze at.

Otherwise? Well, not much has changed — though your secret “NuCable” company (OK, fine, yes it’s Verizon — sorry to spoil the surprise) has actually been cutting back their investment in their fiber optic FiOS network of late because of its high cost, pricing has gotten a bit more competitive on the wireless side with T-Mobile and Sprint fighting for position, and their largest real competitor, AT&T, is still fighting to win regulatory approval for its acquisition of DirecTV.

I still own the shares, I’d argue that Verizon (sorry, “NuCable”) hasn’t fundamentally changed very much and is still trading largely like a utility, and with that I’ll leave you with the words we first shared in April of last year when the ad started running…

—from 4/10/14, not edited or revised–

“Ford Killed the Horse & Buggy.

“Microsoft Killed the Typewriter.

“Apple Killed the Compact Disc.

“Now Introducing… The Company That’s About to Kill Cable Television.”

That’s the intro to the latest ad from the Oxford Club… which thinks this secret company “NuCable” will be able to revolutionize the cable TV business and make all of our lives better (and, of course, make us rich). The spiel is much like growth stock pitches of the past, with intimations that if only you could have foreseen the market upheaval brought by Ford, Microsoft and Apple you would be rich … and now you have the chance to get in early on the next upheaval.

This is not all that different from the argument the Motley Fool has been making in their ads about “Television 2.0” for a year and a half, but this time the ad is from the Oxford Club, and this time they’re touting not the content owners (the Fool was teasing Disney, Scripps Networks Interactive, and Discovery) but an “upstart” competitor that’s going to be a better distributor than your cable company.

This is the crux of the argument:

“In what could be just a few months, a deep-pocketed and highly respected tech company will unveil a secret project that will soon become known as the “iTunes of the television industry.”

“I like to call it ‘NuCable.’ But keep in mind, virtually nobody knows about this yet.

“The products’ origins are somewhat shrouded in mystery…

“It was initially developed in a locked-down underground facility.

“(With no front door!)

“Only a handful of the project’s creators were allowed in through secure, underground tunnels.

“But for the vast number of people in America eternally frustrated with their cable companies, this secret project will be a godsend.”

And there’s plenty more — folks have been predicting an awesome next-generation television offering for more than a decade now, powered by the internet… and it’s sort of here, through services like Netflix and Apple TV and Hulu, but it’s not quite enough to overcome “real” TV. Here’s a bit more from the ad:

“Americans are ready for a cable alternative that really works. And in the coming months they’re finally going to get it.

“The Consumers Are Ready… The Media Is Buzzing… And ‘NuCable’ Is the Perfect Storm

“Over the last few months, details have finally started to emerge. And what I’m seeing is exactly what millions of cable customers have been crying out for.

“Keep in mind, there’s only a few media members privy to the technology behind what I’m calling ‘NuCable.’

“But they’re ALL buzzing with excitement…

Business Insider calls it a ‘Holy Grail for consumers.’

Forbes predicts, ‘It will kill the cable industry as we know it.’

“Reuters says the product goes beyond anything Apple or Netflix offers… Daily Finance is calling it a ‘game changer.'”

Any more clues for us? We do get a bit …

“This firm’s share prices have stayed comfortably in the mid-40s over the last year.

“But I can easily see it launching up to $100 to $150 to $185 once NuCable goes live… Even reaching Google levels of $1200, once millions of Americans make the switch.”

(And he includes a chart of this stock, with the name blacked out, going up from the high-$40s to $250 in 2014. Which is, frankly, ridiculous…. more on that in a minute.)

A few more clues for those of you playing along at home? Sure…

“The company behind NuCable is perhaps one of the most important tech firms in the country.

“They’re involved in virtually EVERYTHING that we take for granted.

“Cell phones… computers… tablets… and thousands of other gadgets we use every day. This company has their hand in nearly all of it.

“Again, this is NOT Apple or Google or Samsung that I’m talking about….

“Tens of millions of people are using this company’s products right now.

“Even if they weren’t on the verge of releasing one of the most transformative innovations in American history, they would still be a great investment.

“They handily beat their most recent earnings estimate. They have 3 years of steadily increasing revenue.

“They also pay a solid dividend. Analysts have referred to it as ‘one of the best dividend stocks.'”

That’s about all I can stand to excerpt for you — you can feel free to check out the original ad here if you want to double check my solution. But I do have the teaser solution for you… this is… our old favorite Verizon (VZ)

I know — it’s a letdown, right?

But there you have it.

Verizon may not be on all the top ten lists of most hated businesses in the country, but they’re probably pretty close — particularly if you’re asking folks whether they like paying $400 a month for their family’s phones. Those lists are generally populated with all the folks you have to pay every month, so competitor AT&T and all the cable companies and several electric utilities are usually on those lists (and no cable company has every gone broke because you hate them).

And Verizon is now the sole owner of Verizon Wireless, a gem of an asset with a valuable LTE network, as well as the owner of the still-fledgling FiOS network that’s competing with the cable companies for the “triple play” business (voice, broadband, TV) in many areas of the country.

I own Verizon shares because they were a stupidly easy buy when they carried a 6-7% dividend yield a few years back, but they’re still a fine stock to own for the gradually growing dividend… and I’d wager that the dividend is why most people are in the stock. Like other telecoms and utilities, it’s a pretty classic ‘blue chip’ kind of stock.

It’s also huge. Verizon is a $200 billion market cap company (a $300 billion company if you include debt), and it’s not growing particularly fast.

So why the big push? This spiel from Dave Baumann, the Oxford Club’s media analyst, is based on Verizon’s purchase earlier this year of OnCue, Intel’s “not quite ready for prime time” internet television business, which could indeed end up being a nice puzzle piece as they push to improve and extend FiOS.

But I’d guess that they’re probably not going to begin offering the US what it wants (a la carte cable subscriptions) in the next year or two — OnCue had some good deals with providers to do just that, but part of the reason they probably got decent content deals was that they were a small and experimental project. Big changes are certainly possible but, in truth, it’s pretty hard to see the Verizon behemoth being the company that shakes up and unbundles the at-home entertainment business, not after all of their years of aggressively bundling and tacking on services in much the same way that the cable companies do.

But sure, I guess it’s possible and I’d be delighted to see it — even if Verizon’s broadband doesn’t reach Gumshoe Mountain just yet (we’re still pretty much stuck with Comcast for TV and broadband in this corner of the world). But even if they do this, Verizon’ stock isn’t ever going to go up 10,000% like Apple after iTunes, or 1,000% like Netflix over their hot three year run a little while ago, regardless of the fact that the Oxford folks include those charts to get us excited.

So… Intel’s TV business that they sold to Verizon is not going to fundamentally change the way the company works overnight, but it might make Verizon’s FiOS better (this will apparently enable them to incorporate more IPTV into FiOS, providing more interactivity and on demand features than cable can by itself, and they’ve already been investing in improving their network and making FiOS work with Verizon’s wireless network to provide content across devices). And that’s a good thing.

OnCue also comes with some deals with content providers, though it’s up in the air how those deals will scale inside Verizon’s world. There was good coverage of the OnCue deal in Barron’s here (it only cost Verizon $200-300 million, almost a rounding error for both Intel and Verizon). Barron’s earlier very laudatory piece about the OnCue business, back when it looked like Intel was actually going to spend it into existence for consumers, is here if you want more description of the possibilities of the service and the technology.

Verizon is a good company, I think it’s pretty well and aggressively managed, and they have a huge customer base in an oligopoly. I own the stock and I won’t be selling it anytime soon unless something strange happens, but I’m counting on it as a consistent 5% yielder and I’ll be surprised if it ever beats the market in an up year.

And no, I don’t think Verizon is about to kill cable television — and I will be flabbergasted if Verizon’s stock price moves by triple digits (i.e., goes up 100% or more) in the next three years, let along 1,000%… but I suppose it would be reasonable for the stock to double in 5-10 years if they get a better hold on home entertainment, and I’m happy to see the dividend compound during that time.

They’re also, of course, not working in a vacuum — Comcast and all the cable companies are changing cable TV, too, and cable companies have great broadband pipes into a lot more homes than are served by Verizon FiOS.

So sure, buy Verizon if you like. But you’ll probably still end up hating either Verizon or your cable company in five years.

That’s about all I can tell you about Verizon’s secret “NuCable” business — think it’ll end up making us all rich? Looking forward to seeing the next generation of OnCue in your living room? Let us know what you’re thinking with a comment below.


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84 Comments on "NuCable: “Company That’s About to Kill Cable Television”"

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vivianlewis
Member
166
we are being barraged with offers here in Manhattan for Verizon, going head to head with the cable firms by offering something called Fios, fiber optic. This is another form of cable for Internet and TV. Of course Manhattan is easy to wire up because we all live on top of each other, not on top of a mountain miles from anyone else like the gumshoe does. So far I have resisted the temptation to switch but one of these days they’ll get my business, especially if, as it looks like will happen, our rotten cable company, Time Warner, will… Read more »
aunt_barb
Member
18
Hi Vivian, Hold on to TW –or Comcast if it goes that way–as long as you can. We’ve had FiOS for 2.5 years now and seen the monthly tab go from $99 intro offer to 255 with no change in our units or services. And there’s no end in sight, of course. The TV stutters a lot, goes mute, cuts recordings short (we always miss Jon Stewarts” Moment of Zen”) and throws ad banners onscreen way too frequently. We hate it, but we bought the stock anyway. Gumshoe is right on as usual. Fun article. Thanks, Travis. I’ll go check… Read more »
apparelp
Irregular
9

Buffet just gobbled up a ton of shares of VZ in March 0f 2014 .THAT is a good sign.

apparelp
Irregular
9

11 million shares to be exact.

Technus
Guest
0

Verizon is not any better than any other cable company. I had them for a while and was not impressed. Unless all of the wiring in your home is also fiber optic, you won’t notice any difference in speed. There is a bottleneck. Also, they monitor your downloads and are constantly watching what you are doing. They also require a contract. I switched to another cable company that offers no contracts and don’t monitor my every move.

Skillset
Guest
0

Ok Jim Dolan……… take it easy. FIOS is buy far superior to all cable companies, except for AT&T Uverse just like FIOS is a fiber optic network to the side of your premiss. As far as monitoring your usage they all can. FIOS had a top speed TODAY……. Of 300/300 mps no sharing with your neighbors that’s the future Jimmy.

bluesharpbob
Member
112

I’ve personally had FIOS for 4 years now after having Cablevision’s Optimum services for many years & getting continual rate increases. FIOS has proven superior in every way, especially price-wise.

KennyG
Irregular
3527
I wasn’t going to get into this as sometimes these cable discussions can take a life of its own and get nasty. But I was obligated to say something as there are many misstatements being made. Think about it… think about the technology that the cable companies use (Cablevision, Comcast, TW) use compared to what Verizon uses with FiOS. All cable companies employ a coax architecture in the network. (some are starting to deploy hybrid coax/fiber). Network here is defined as outside of your premise. A coax cable runs to and terminates in a hub that is located somewhere in… Read more »
jzjinvestor
Member
1

Pray tell who the other cable company is?

Carbon Bigfoot
Guest
0

Have DIRECTV since 1996. Absolutely NO ONE has BETTER RECEPTION OR SERVICE. Yes it is not cheap for the premium package ( $100 ) but it’s worth it IMHO.

solyom
Member
1

I calculate the fair value of discounted free cash flow for VZ to be 59 per share; it chart suggests that the stock could be bullish or bearish but if it rose to 50 probably would be bullish over the mid-term.

John Harris
Guest
0

What a letdown. I got the pitch from Oxford (I am one of their subscribers to their cheap service, the Communique, not their premium ones so they send me every pitch on earth for the premium advisories and yes I was one of those who forwarded it to gumshoe) and it actually got my hopes up for a-la-carte TV programing. Darn.

baygreen
Member
30
I thought it was a new channel with ears and black and white with exersize remote control and go look if they had a 8 track adapter for sound beyond belief, sounds like new health care or affordable care you can watch how to do check ups( say ah). Travis you are good stay that way , I like your 1 bill a year deal maybe we could have a contest for the irregulars winner get 1 year of thrills ILL chip in like the Dollar on the voter ballot the govt. has with Lois Learner joke, but I chip… Read more »
arch1
Irregular
7744

Cathy; Talk about prescience,,,,today,,,April 11,, is national 8 track day!!

justirregular
Guest
0

Frank, You really get around! Do you still use an 8track? You know that vinly is making a huge comeback! Thank everyone that we kept my dads Jazz and Big band albums! Toast!

arch1
Irregular
7744

just; I still have a machine or two but the belts are probably gone + tapes with disconnected joint tape. I have boxes of vinyl & also wax disks I occasionally play.

justirregular
Guest
0

Sorry Frank, but my last reply to you went somewhere else! Not sure why but in a nutshell, The only wax is between my ears!

Uncle Tanoose
Guest
0

I’ve still got a scratchy copy of I like “Bread and Butter” on a 45rpm. But, back to the crust, lol, of the matter, the company in question is none other than Dollar Tree Cable(DTC). They are a fraction of the price and have a big cash reserve. Dave Bauman says, keep an eye out for them !

Vernon Hilderbrand
Guest
0
I was a Directv subscriber for 14 years and for the last five years I tried to get their HD service, but their installers couldn’t see the HD satellites for the trees even though my SD Directv had excellent signal strength. So Verizon Fios finally won my business, but TV programming is getting so riddled with commercials that I hope someone can come up with a replacement for TV, no matter who delivers the signal. I understand the need for commercials, but some of the programming I have watched recently has five minutes of multiple commercials, breaks back to the… Read more »
roger densley
Guest
0
We refuse to watch commercials. We dvr and skip them. My wife watches the young and the restless daily. The program lasts an hour, but without the commercials it’s 36 minutes. The only exception I make is the morning news that I have while I get ready for work, and even at that I DVR it while I do other things. Darn lawyers, car dealers, auto insurance, and drug companies constantly bombarding me with BS. I don’t know how the broadcasters are going to make any money in the future when no one advertises because no one watches them any… Read more »
Vernon Hilderbrand
Guest
0
Roger Densley, When I replaced Directv with Verizon FiOS I installed the multiroom HD DVR so we can now fast forward through the commercials that are becoming more frequent and consumes more of the air time that could be used for entertainment programming. But, before the switch to Verizon I had noted more and more reality programming that is really stupid with senseless content and bad language. I’ve also noticed Verizon has multiple channels with the same programming (both standard and high definition). Thus Verizon is able to increase their channel count without giving the consumer any new content. One… Read more »
RockinSid
Guest
0

Kind of interesting, would be nice inplace of 4G!

Oscar
Guest
0

I work Verizon FiOS tech support and we recently received training on a new TV service and items that hasn’t been released yet. I think it’s more of an incremental upgrade.

Gary W
Guest
0

Fios sounds like a similar offering as AT&T’s U-verse, which is a goof service but not too successful in wresting market share away from cable. People are just too lazy — and the ones who want to change fall for Dish or DirecTV first. No wonder Verizon is struggling there. It might be a good substitute blue chip though, for their LTE network alone.

marty
Guest
0

Gary:
I’m in the dark about all this new service. Had another company touting the replacement of all cable companies. Do you know what company they are speaking of. I cannot seem to find it, and the Motley Fool was touting the article. Would appreciate info if you know of new technology that is replacing Cable TV.

Gary Stoltzenberg
Guest
0

You’re right Motley full was predicting the death of cable over a year ago. There were
3 companies they referred to as the new golden age of tv.DISCK (Discovery Communications), SNI, Scripts Networks, and DIS, Disney.

backoffice
Irregular
232

Motley was touting SNI,DISCK,DIS, now I hear VZ and I’m disappointed. I’ve had Fios since it began and see no real difference than other cable companies.

theaccusersgift
Guest
0

Who can afford cable anymore? I had to cancel cable 2 years ago when the last federal income tax hit.

bj
Guest
0
I had cable from a small regional telephone company. The cable provider shut off my HD cable boxes about twice a week for no reason I can discern. Recently switched to DirecTV just to try it after being talked into it by a cute gal at Sam’s Club with promises of more channels for about the same price as cable. I AM getting 2xs as many channels as cable but MOST of the extras channels are 24 hour sellers of crap I have no interest in buying. However I also got about 55 Premium TV channels for 3 months AND… Read more »
Adrian
Guest
0

Hey BJ,
Why not watch ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX in full HD via an antenna? I fitted one in my attic 3 years ago and have been saving over $100 per month ever since.

TW
Guest
0

I have been experimenting with antennas and can NOT get it to work properly.
I am in NY area and can get some channels, but not others. I wish I could find
some help with this.

arch1
Irregular
7744

Tw; If you are talking about problems in the city they may have no solution.That is a high density communication area and to pick a clean signal out of the fog is increasingly difficult.
It might be possible to use multiple highly directional antennas or use a rotator to get more stations but not really likely.

lspearnak
Guest
0

no broadcast stations available in NYC area (all satelite/cable)…returned the antennae to BEST BUY who admitted as much ONLY AFTER I RETURNED THE ITEM.

Glenn
Guest
0

I learned a trick years ago installing T.V. antennas. Coaxial cable kills signal and working in mountain areas it was very hard and almost impossible to get any signal but snow. Take about 100 or more feet of twin lead wire and sig zag it thru you attic. Since twin lead isn’t shielded it picks up signal. In the mountains have had a signal that thru the snow could barely see the picture. After using the twin lead got a perfect picture.

Sheri
Guest
0

what brand or type HD antenna did you get? Does it work that well?

arch1
Irregular
7744

bj; Adrian beat my comment,,small regional remote telephone co. I use also has “problems”,,,,streaming for me is not useable option. I get hdtv via antenna & tho that also has problems is best option for me. I often use Netflix dvds to watch old tv series,, PBS,, + movies.

olivan leach
Guest
0
Bj. you don’t live just out of a small town in Texas do you? Your statements sounds like were I live just out of town in Texas. It took me 3 years to get internet here,and it works just a little faster than the old dial up and it stops working about 5 or 6 times a week. It does no good to call them they got there same ole spill its not us its your computer,turn off wait 10 min’s. and it will reset. Yet that never works and the wind will blow and it comes back on. Now… Read more »
arch1
Irregular
7744

olivan; you sound like my compadre from Oregon.

rheabay
Member
2

I cancelled out of Comcast cable also and opted for an antennae. Local channels plus a lot of older programming such as old movies and sit-coms, etc. At least I am not paying to watch a bunch of commercials and public broadcasting has no commercials in the middle of a program. There always at the end. I get an excellent HD picture and I have Netflix, may subscribe to Hulu also, so I can watch all issues of the Good Wife.

Len Pitts
Guest
0

If it wasn’t for the NFL Ticket, I’d leave Direct TV as well. Like you, I’d happy with about 20 channels and they can shove all the rest. If only someone would allow you to pick those few channels you actually watch and only charge for them, then they’d own the TV business and put all these sob’s out of business.

KKflash
Guest
0
Here in my small MN town we have lots of TV options: Charter cable, local telephone company fiber optic, DISH, and DirecTV. The game I have to play with them to get lots of programming for cheap is to switch every 1-2 years. They all constantly offer “new customer only” deals that are 30-50% lower than their regular price. In my latest switch, installing this coming Monday, Charter agreed to pay the exit fee to DISH (up to $200) in order to get me out of my current 2 year contract without extra cost to me. When are they going… Read more »
marty
Guest
0

You’ve got it figured out KKflash. Only problem is; taking the time to hassle with the change-over.

Got any ideas for that?

GeorgeS
Guest
0
A few years ago in the Seattle area suburbs Verizon was aggressively doing a FIOS build-out. They unfortunately stopped just short of my house just before selling the local phone service provider, who then did not continue adding onto the system. However, I did speak with a couple Verizon techs at the time who mentioned a project to feed suburbia via a wifi system rather than continue fiber to each house. That is, adding to cell towers some type of high bandwidth signal capability for more stationary (not cell) use. I did not hear anything else after that, but I… Read more »
John N
Guest
0

I have to agree with Travis’ very well written analysis. VZ is a good stock but it’s not the only game in town and their competitors aren’t exactly resting on their laurals. I doubt VZ will see triple digits any time soon.

Gary Stoltzenberg
Guest
0

Forget it I’m in the NYC area and Verizon has their head up their A$$. I wouldn’t count on them for anything but misery. It takes them forever to hardwire a simple location so the cost factor has to be higher than what they get back on return. It would probably take over 10 years before they start seeing profits on installations and by that time things will definitely change.

Michael Jorrin,
Guest
0
Michael Jorrin (aka Doc Gumshoe)

I myself wouldn’t want to kill cable, but I would be happy to read the obituary!

Quincy Adams
Guest
0

I live in the suburbs where FiOs and AT&T U-verse are blocked at the county line. I suspect that’s the case in many areas, so it’s unlikely VZ will raise revenue much by garnering new customers with fancy programming and instead will continue to raise their rates. I had Direct TV but it went out every time a cloud passed by, so went bottom-fishing with Comcast, who I blame for all the trouble. Am holding VZ as a div stock, nothing more.

jbinsc
Irregular
43

I had understood that a Verizon subsidiary Ruckus was the one to make the big move. Am I completely wrong? I’ll appreciate any comments.
jbinsc

RHandyman
Guest
0

Hey Doc that’s funny. I did pull the trigger on my local cable company and agree with Adrian’s comment above. I now have 18 free HD channels more time with my kids and walks with my wife, the side effects should be more money in my pocket and improved health.
A win win for me. Some shows is miss but, can pick them up off the internet a week or so later.

henrybirdwell
Member
1