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NBC Universal CEO: Online TV 'Off to Slow Start'

27 Jul, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

NBC Universal CEO Stephen Burke

Stephen Burke, CEO of NBC Universal, has a love-hate relationship with upstart online TV.

On the one hand, smaller channel-bundles at loss-leader pricing with no contract undoubtedly threaten the existing pay-TV ecosystem. At the same time, online TV represents new distribution and revenue for content creators such as NBC Universal.

Speaking on the July 27 Comcast fiscal call, Burke characterized online TV as not “all that material” to NBC Universal. While the executive said the media company deals with all of “them,” — ostensibly referring to platforms such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Charter Spectrum TV Plus, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV, among others, Burke is not a believer.

“From an NBC Universal point of view, if someone goes to an over-the-top provider, it's actually slightly better. But it's a very tough business. And as we've said before, we're skeptical that it's going to be a very large business or profitable business for the people that are in it. And they're off to a relatively slow start,” Burke said.

Meanwhile, Comcast Cable lost 45,000 video subscribers in the second quarter, ended June 30. The decline was more than double the 21,000 video subs lost during the previous-year period. Comcast ended the period with 21.4 million video subs.

On the call, CFO Michael Cavanagh shrugged off the sub decline to market conditions and new entrants in the online TV market. He said Comcast effectively competes as a leading ISP and bundling services.

Indeed, 70% of Comcast customers take at least two products, including broadband. More then 55% of subs now use the X1 cloud-based set-top compared to 40% a year ago.

High-speed Internet continued to be the largest contributor to overall cable revenue growth. Revenue increased 9.2% to $3.7 billion, driven by an increase in the residential customer base and rate adjustments.

“We added 140,000 residential high-speed Internet customers … and we remain focused on adding value and further enhancing our competitive differentiation through improvement to capacity, coverage and capabilities,” said Cavanagh.


About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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