About a year after repackaging and repricing its product lines and initiating an aggressive alldigital plant upgrade, Charter Communications is set in the first quarter of next year to relaunch its products under a new brand umbrella — Charter Spectrum.
Charter would follow several other cable operators that have rebranded their video and broadband products, including Comcast’s Xfinity and Cablevision Systems’ Optimum. Charter, with the lowest video penetration of any publicly traded cable operator at about 34% of homes passed, has made several moves in the past year to repackage and reprice offerings to make them more attractive to consumers. The rebranding appears to be the logical next step.
Charter senior vice president of communications Alex Dudley said that with all the transformative changes to Charter’s products as the company goes all-digital — including more than doubling HD channels from about 100 to more than 200, significantly increasing broadband speeds and introducing a cloud-based user interface — it seemed like the proper time to unveil a new brand.
Charter CEO Tom Rutledge hinted that a rebranding was on the way during the MSO’s third-quarter conference call on Nov. 5. During that call, he said Charter’s video service has been challenged because it was inferior to the competition. But with the all-digital upgrade slated to be completed by the end of 2014, the hope is that the new products surrounding that revamp will translate into new subscribers.
That seems to be happening already. Rutledge noted on the call that although Charter lost about 27,000 residential basic-video customers in the period (an improvement from the 71,000 lost in 2012), the company gained video customers in markets where the upgrade had been completed.
But Rutledge also noted that Charter needs to build on the goodwill that upgraded products are generating, hence the rebranding.
“Our new customers have very high opinions of their service levels with us,” Rutledge said on the Nov. 5 call. “So the time has come, I think, for us to begin to rebrand Charter and to go forward with a more aggressive push into the marketplace with our video product and our triple-play.”
Charter expects to begin rolling out Charter Spectrum in the first quarter of 2014 and will expand as markets are converted to all-digital. While Charter did not reveal which markets will be targeted initially for the rebranding, its Fort Worth, Texas, market was one of the first to go all-digital and will likely be an early candidate for the rebranding efforts.
Dudley added that the Spectrum name came about as a result of internal discussions led by chief marketing officer Jonathan Hargis and advertising and marketing agencies Charter uses in the normal course of business. He added there are no plans to put the Charter Spectrum logo on trucks or employee uniforms in the immediate term, but that could change as the rollout moves forward.
Looking to promote its all-digital upgrade, Charter Communications will market its consumer services under the “Spectrum” brand next year.