Cord-cutting hasn't (yet) put a big dent in Comcast's overall numbers, Comcast CEO says.
The dust has settled from Comcast’s failed bid for Time Warner Cable . But Comcast’s core business—selling bundled packages of television, Internet and phone connectivity to consumers and businesses—is still facing disruption. But the pressures haven’t kept the company from growing. In fact, its last quarterly earnings report showed that the number of overall customer “relationships” increased 156,000, a 90% improvement from the same period last year.
“It was our best video quarter in nine years,” Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, told the audience at Fortune‘s Global Forum during an on-stage conversation about the shifting media industry.
Comcast has been bleeding customers on the video side, but managed to significantly slow the losses in this most recent quarter (and, importantly, increase its overall revenue per customer 4.3% in the same time period). And it is adding customers in its high-speed Internet business. In this most recent quarter, their ranks increased 320,000 while revenue grew 10.2%.
What’s driving the growth? It’s at least partly due to new products, according to Roberts. About a quarter of video customers now have its X1 Internet-enabled television platform.
“Every quarter we try to have new product,” Roberts said. To help come up with those products, Comcast CMCSA now employs 1,500 software engineers. The company is building a new technology center and also has a presence in Silicon Valley.
But while it has developed new products and managed to squeeze more money out of customers, the competition has also increased.
“There’s a lot of competition—satellite, telcos and cord-cutting,” said Roberts. There is also a generational change: younger people are increasingly cutting the cord, a.k.a. disconnecting cable TV and getting their video content from the likes of Netflix and Amazon. “You’d be foolish not to embrace it [the generational shift],” said Roberts, who pointed to recent acquisitions like new media companies BuzzFeed and Vox.
But Comcast’s biggest threat, quite possibly, remains itself.
“We’ve been making steady improvements,” Roberts said of the company’s notorious customer service snafus. “You’ve got to show up on time and it has to be reliable.”
Comcast has been innovating on the customer experience side as well. One new feature is automatically crediting customers if a technician shows up late. “We’re improving dramatically, but we can always do better.”
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