Boston -- Cable operators need to take a page out of Home Box Office's book
by redefining marketing as 'an obsessive focus on customers,' Time Warner Cable
vice chairman and chief operating officer John Billock told a CTAM Summit
audience here Monday.
'I'm not talking about marketing simply in terms of promotion and advertising
tactics,' Billock, a 23-year marketing veteran of HBO, said during the Cable
& Telecommunications Association for Marketing's opening general
'HBO was not constructed as a company with the obligatory marketing
department,' he added. 'It was built as a marketing-focused company from the
Since joining Time Warner Cable last fall, Billock has made customer care the
overriding focus, aiming to create an 'emotional bond' with subscribers. That's
what's going to give cable its edge against its direct-broadcast satellite
rivals, which are taking 2 million homes away from cable per year, he added.
'Let's give them credit: The satellite folks got ahead of us in terms of
delivering more channels,' Billock said. 'They simplified packaging for
customers. And they pulled off the greatest stunt yet: They convinced a lot of
the public that DBS represented the technological future.'
At HBO, everyone always 'ran a little scared,' worried about rivals Showtime
and Starz!. Billock called DBS 'my new Showtime, my new Starz!.'
The industry is at a transformational time, according to Billock. 'No one
else has the architecture that the cable industry has in place today,' he said.
'Cable has the only true broadband triple play -- video, voice and data. This is
our game to lose.'
Billock also offered an update on his MSO, saying that it currently has
60,000 high-definition-TV customers, but it is rolling out twice as many units
Time Warner Cable's digital penetration is more than 30 percent, with close
to 4 million digital subscribers, he said. And he pointed out that
video-on-demand will be rolled out to all Time Warner Cable divisions by the end
of the year, with 14 launched already.
'VOD and SVOD [subscription VOD] have had a spillover effect on overall pay
TV subscriptions, increasing the category by about 5 percent in those areas
where these new services have been offered,' Billock said.