Predicting TV’s evolution over the next five years is tough, but a top Comcast executive offered two guiding principles the company is using to manage the path: ensure that content is both abundant and readily available. And, CFO Michael Angelakis said Thursday, the cable operator believes it is well-positioned on both fronts.
At an investor event, he said Comcast asks itself two questions: Will consumers continue to covet more video? Will they want more flexibility (anytime, anywhere, any device) to consume it?
On the first: “We believe pretty resoundingly the answer is yes.” Comcast, the country’s largest cable operator, believes it has a robust enough content pipeline from video on demand (30,000 choices) to tablet-consumption options (7,000), while it owns NBCUniversal.
On the second: “As we have more content … we want to make sure that we are able to provide our customers with the broadest array of content choices over any platform anytime, and we want to make sure the delivery … is superior to our competitors.”
One question raised about cable and other distributors is the economy. Is the company pricing some consumers out of their video products? Angelakis said Comcast is experimenting with different pricing options, but reiterated the well-worn argument that a cable subscription is a pretty good deal.
He said Comcast’s average revenue per user (ARPU) is about $73 for a video package, lower than competitors DirecTV and Dish, and Cablevision and Charter.
“I don’t think we should be defensive that the core service that we offer on the video side has a lot of value,” he said.
On Comcast’s NBCUniversal operations, Angelakis described the advertising market as “pretty neutral” vis-à-vis 2011, which was a strong year, given the economy.
He reiterated that the division’s greatest potential growth comes from a would-be turnaround at the NBC network, where it is investing heavily. A success would be a "real swing in profitability," but he noted that it was "going to take a while."
Angelakis also described the Spanish-language Telemundo business as a “a diamond in the rough.”