Comcast and Charter: Traditional services compete with DirecTV Now just fine

by Daniel Frankel | Dec 9, 2016 10:49am

Top executives for Comcast and Charter Communications said this week that AT&T’s launch of an over-the-top skinny bundle will not significantly impact their video strategies.

“No, not fundamentally,” said Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh, when asked by UBS analyst John Hodulik at an investor event if DirecTV Now might change the direction of Comcast’s recently reignited subscriber growth.

Cavanagh said that Comcast's investments in its X1 video platform make it competitive against such emerging IP-only products.

“Making investments in just the breadth of content that's available, being kind of a leader in making sure we're acquiring stacking rights, TV Everywhere rights, and the like is another element,” he said.

Speaking a day earlier on the same stage, Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge said, “All in all, because of our relationship with the customer, and all the products we have, and the services proposition we have in the home, we can stay very competitive."

For his part, Cavanagh sparked confusion when he responded to one Hodulik inquiry.

“Our expectation is you're going to see similar [OTT] launches from other, especially internet-based, companies,” Hodulik said.

“We agree with that; it’s coming,” Cavanagh responded.

The CFO was referring to upcoming OTT competition, but some media outletsinterpreted the response to indicate that Comcast would soon launch at OTT service outside its footprint, a model the MSO has said isn’t economically viable.