Finance

Watson: Out-of-Footprint Video Still Doesn’t Work

Comcast Cable CEO says content rights remain biggest hurdle 5/18/2017 9:58 AM Eastern
Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson: "If you want to go out and get all of the rights ... it is very little to no margin."

Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson still doesn’t believe an out-of-footprint, over-the-top video offering makes economic sense for the largest cable operator in the country, but said if a model emerges, its X1 operating platform would be ideal.

Related > Out of Bounds: Mapping Out Cable's Prospects for Going OTT [subscription required]

Comcast has said repeatedly that it didn’t see a model that works for an out-of-footprint service. Watson’s predecessor, current vice chairman Neil Smit, reiterated that position a year later, saying last year that the operator hadn’t found an OTT model that “really hunts.” A few weeks later at the INTX show in Boston, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts reiterated that position.

Related: New CEO Watson Won’t Disrupt Comcast Cable Momentum

At the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York Thursday (May 18), Watson said programming rights issues still make an outside OTT product unfeasible.

“We have some rights, but they’re not complete,” Watson said. “If you want to go out and get all of the rights connected to it, it is very little to no margin. We’re not questoning others and their approach. We’ll compete, when they come into our footprint, aggressively with X1 or broadband. When we look at taking that similar approach and that same model, we haven’t seen one that works.”

But Watson said if a feasible model emerges, its X1 platform would be ideal for a nationwide OTT offering.

“X1 would be a great technology solution for outside the footprint as well as inside,” Watson said. “We just haven’t found something that works.”

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