Angelakis: Comcast Not Worried About OTT

CFO Says Consumers Are ‘Evolving’
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Comcast vice chairman and chief financial officer Michael Angelakis said the cable giant isn’t worried about threats from over-the-top video, telling an industry group Tuesday that such products could help its broadband and content assets.

“The consumer is evolving,” Angelakis said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco. “Our goal is to evolve with our customer base.”

He added that Comcast doesn’t necessarily see OTT offerings as competition to its video product but rather as a complement to its video, broadband and NBC Universal content assets.

“Our goal is to serve those customers,” Angelakis said. “Ultimately, if people want to have video, whether they live in San Francisco or Philadelphia or Boston, or hopefully New York or L.A., we’ll provide those services anywhere, anytime.”

Angelakis said he wasn’t bothered by some early OTT offerings from CBS – like its CBS All –Access product – and even by the much anticipated Home Box Office over the top product expected later this year, mainly because the products are in the “embryonic” stages.

In some cases, he added the offerings could highlight the value of Comcast video.

“Some of these tend to be pretty expensive and when you add them all up they can probably outstrip the value of some off our core services when you add it with broadband ,” Angelakis said. “We have thought about more flexible packaging, more streaming and lighter packages in order to provide those alternatives and those choices to our customers. We have to evolve and we have to pivot appropriately and I think we will do that.”

Angelakis added that Comcast also is moving forward on customer service initiatives, adding that the goals there is to offer a “transformative” customer experience. While improving customer service has been at the top of the list for years, Comcast has recently endured a series of black eyes on that front, which hasn’t helped its public perception.

“Our head is not in the sand; I understand the skepticism,” Angelakis said, adding that the idea is to use some of Comcast’s recent product innovations like the X1 operating system and use them to enhance the customer experience.

“Our goal is to take that technical innovation and turn it into customer experience innovation,” Angelakis continued. “We are determined to change the experience for our customers. Not incremental but transformative. We’ve actually done a fair job incrementally, but that’s not good enough and that won’t suffice. If we really want to be an industry leader, [if] we really want to leapfrog competitors, [if] we really want to be best in class, we have to have the best customer experience both from the products and the service side.”

Angelakis also weighed in on the Federal Communications Commission’s move to reclassify broadband under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, not surprisingly adding that a regulation drawn up more than 80 years ago perhaps is not the one to be overseeing the Internet.

“Unfortunately this is a disappointing development, in terms of that it’s going to get legally challenged and will create a period of real uncertainty in terms of what is the regulatory framework going forward,” Angelakis said.

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