Comcast’s “Triple Play” offering customers bundled cable, telephone and Internet high speed modem service is progressing fast enough that Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO, thinks it will stave off competition from AT&T and Verizon’s nascent cable services.
“If and when the Bells get there—really, really--we’ll have gotten there first,” Roberts said Tuesday at the Bear Stearns media conference in Palm Beach, Fla. Roberts said if anything, “We underestimated how many people wanted Triple Play and how fast they wanted it.”He said the growth of that bundled package is proved by the numbers. Two years ago, he said, Comcast grew by 3 million “revenue generating units.” Last year it added 5 million. This year, it anticipates to add 7 million. Those units essentially represent new customers, or customers adding new services like modems or phones.Comcast is predicting 12% revenue growth this year, and a 14% growth in cash flow.
One place cash won’t be flowing, he said, is to broadcasters seeking cash in their retransmission consent agreements. Though it appeared Roberts didn’t rule out the possibility it would pay some cash to broadcasters, he did seem to rule out all-cash deals. “We will be happy to sit down with reasonable folk and talk about some kind of cooperative deals where comparable value gets exchanged,” he said. “We’re not interested and we will not pay cash as a flat out [part of the deal].” He said Comcast has finished 600 retrans deals already and another one is nearly done. But he said, of the four largest retrans deals Comcast faces, the earliest come due about five years from now.He said Comcast is willing to discuss “something other than just pay. We will help market each other’s services where it will be a win-win outcome so we won’t have to raise consumer rates to watch free TV. That line is drawn. That’s not changing. I don’t anticipate that changing. On another matter, Roberts was bullish on video-on-demand, suggesting that it is more important at this point for Comcast to use its bandwidth to add a large package of on-demand hi-def movies than to add a cable network’s new HD version. And he said viewership is growing. He said, “We have 27 views per month” in Comcast homes that have the ability to access VOD. “That used to be 10.”