Roberts: Comcast Won’t Quit Netflix ‘Cold Turkey’

Like WarnerMedia, he says company will decide case by case which shows and movies to license to big SVOD services
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As Comcast and its NBCUniversal division take the bold step of launching their own streaming platform to rival Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, they will still license some shows to the major subscription video-on-demand services.

Brian Roberts, Comcast

Brian Roberts

This point was reiterated Tuesday by Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, who spoke at the Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco.

“Our thinking going in is we have an awful lot of content,” Roberts said. “Some of it will monetize best being on an advertising platform. Others will monetize best being on a third-party platform. We’re very much focused on not just, as others have said, going completely cold turkey and taking it off all these other platforms. I don’t think that’s our mindset at the moment. We like those relationships.”

Comcast’s strategy jibes with that stated recently by Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, which is also launching an over-the-top platform through its WarnerMedia division. WarnerMedia recently signed a deal with Netflix to re-up the licensing agreement for classic sitcom Friends.

The Walt Disney Co. — the other media conglomerate with SVOD plans — seems to be going the other direction. And the Mouse’s hands are trembling just a bit, as Disney warned on its fourth-quarter earnings call that operating income will be $150 million lower because it’s selling less content to Netflix and other SVOD platforms.

While WarnerMedia and Disney have expressly targeted Netflix with their upcoming OTT platforms, Roberts said Comcast is more motivated by the need to establish more advanced advertising opportunities for clients.

He said most of NBCU’s ads are still delivered through linear broadcast and cable.

“We’re not giving you an intelligent ad. These streaming platforms have that capability,” Roberts noted. 

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