Charter Communications reached out to Comcast this week about teaming up to buy Time Warner Cable, after the larger rival rejected its $37.3 billion takeover bid, according to people familiar with the matter.
Charter approached Comcast on Wednesday to discuss carving up the second-largest U.S. cable company's systems and subscribers, the people said, asking not to be named because they were not authorized to speak with the media. (Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.)
Charter, the No. 4 U.S. cable provider, and Comcast, the top U.S. cable provider, are in preliminary discussions about how to structure a potential alliance, the people said. One possibility is that Charter buys all of Time Warner Cable and sells off some of its markets and subscribers to Comcast, one of the people said.
(Read more: Time Warner Cablerejects Charter's $61 billion bid)
It was not immediately clear which geographic markets are under discussion, but analysts have said that Comcast would be interested in Time Warner Cable's largest markets such as New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas.