Comcast has built a TV Everywhere site that's "complicated technically," but will roll out nationally as a pilot in the next 30 to 60 days, said Stephen Burke, chief operating officer of the cable giant.
Burke, speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2009 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, gave the quick update on Comcast's TV Everywhere rollout. TV Everywhere is a partnership with Time Warner to extend cable subscriptions online and other providers are following suit. In a nutshell, cable subscriptions would be portable to the Web.
The technical details are complicated due to the authentication required for a user to get the online video. Comcast's challenge is to make that authentication easy enough for widespread adoption. "Anyone who subscribes to cable should get a lot of that video as long as they first prove they are subscribers," said Burke, who noted the TV Everywhere has 22 content providers lined up.
The stakes for Comcast and other cable providers are high---especially as consumers demand their video be on more screens. "I think we have a model here that if we do it right will allow us to get ahead of the inevitable," said Burke.
On other topics Burke said:
- WiMax services via Clearwire launched in Portland, Ore. and Atlanta. The company is "significantly ahead" of its projections. Consumers are coming back from DSL to Comcast due to WiMax. "We're watching that kind of share shift very carefully," he said. Comcast plans to launch WiMax in most markets by the end of next year. "We're hard core about 4G," he added. Indeed, Comcast support is one reason that Clearwire sees a fourth quarter tipping point for WiMax.
- Comcast can "inch margin up" on voice services as it ramps up business services.
- The cable giant plans to expand into commercial accounts, notably small and medium sized businesses. Since the incremental cost for Comcast is low, the company can upend T1 lines and other telco services. Comcast on Wednesday said it would offer 100 Mbps Internet services to business customers in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.
- The company looks out two to three years to bet on technologies, such as Docsis 3.0, and plans to roll them out in a way that makes financial sense. The message: Comcast will be disciplined with its capital spending.
- Local advertising is improving. Deals in the pipeline are approaching year ago levels, but are still down 5 percent or so. But relative to the first quarter that's an improvement. "There are grounds for optimism," said Burke.
- Comcast would be open to expanding its current cable footprint via acquisition.