(Reuters) – Twelve percent of subscribers would abandon their cable or satellite companies if Time Warner Inc.'s Turner networks were no longer available, a marketing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said Thursday.
John Hauser, a professor of marketing at MIT, was the fourth witness to be called by the US Department of Justice in his lawsuit to block AT & T's $ 85 billion (£ 60.5 billion) deal to buy Time Warner.
The US government opposes the $ 85 billion deal, arguing that this would harm consumers, as AT & T, which owns the pay-TV service DirecTV, has more of an impact on the price hike of Time Warner's Turner networks.
Hauser's findings are important in the case of the Department of Justice as the claim that the merger could lead to cost increases for cable and satellite subscribers assumes that 12 percent of subscribers would switch providers if Turner's networks were no longer available ,
Hauser's study was based on an online survey of 1,600 television viewers, using a series of decades of research methods, he said Thursday.
In a cross-examination, AT & T attorney Peter Barbur stated that Hauser had not taken into account the effects of the actual historical blackouts of Turner programming.
Barbur said Warren Schlichting, Group President of Dish's Sling TV, said Tuesday that 30,000 or 0.25 percent of his subscribers dropped Dish when Turner programming went dark for about a month in 2014 ,
Barbur also said Cable One said it lost less than 1 percent of subscribers when Turners networks fell in 2013 for about a month.
"Instead of looking at real data on blackouts, a poll was conducted," Barbur said.
Hauser said that without knowing the whole scenario of these situations, it was difficult to say why the results deviated from his findings.
"I think my numbers are correct," he said. The trial, which takes place in the US District Court in Washington, is expected to take six to eight weeks.
Reporting by Jessica Toonkel; Arrangement by Susan Thomas