CFO: Comcast Prepping Online TV Service7 Dec, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel
On the heels of AT&T’s rollout of DirecTV Now, the subscription-based online TV platform, Comcast is readying a service of its own.
Speaking Dec. 7 at the UBS 44th annual Global Media & Telecommunications confab in New York, CFO Mike Cavanagh agreed pay-TV providers and ISPs such as the nation's No. 1 cable operator are aggressively exploring launching alternatives online TV platforms such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and Charter Spectrum TV Plus.
“It's coming,” Cavanagh said, without elaborating.
The executive suggested that not exploring online TV and/or readying for a “higher level of ongoing competition” would be counter to the way Comcast wants the American economy to operate.
“You've got to be thinking ahead … you don't even know what it needs to look like; you just should expect that there's going to be tough competition in the future.”
The CFO said launching online TV is just one aspect of expanding consumer video prowess in a digital age. That approach includes empowering linear TV with enhanced TV Everywhere capabilities and stacking rights to current and previous TV shows.
Online TV, the ad-supported Watchable app and Xfinity on Campus are among evolving Comcast components Cavanagh considers segmenting different customer types and giving something that's “not monolithic.”
Re-evaluating the video consumer at Comcast includes embracing perennial home entertainment competitor Netflix. The SVOD pioneer is now available to Comcast X1 subscribers directly without switching inputs — although a separate subscription is still required and billed through Comcast. Cavanagh said affording subs direct access to Netflix has been a plus, especially to technically challenged viewers looking for “House of Cards.”
“Customers like it,” he said.