Chicago -- Operators are more bullish than ever on the way bundling multiple
services -- with HDTV now part of the package -- ties a subscriber to their core
cable product, according to participants at a National Show panel here
"We can leapfrog satellite with the bundle," said Gregg Graff, senior vice
president of operations for Insight Communications Co. Inc., during the panel
called "The New Sell-ibacy: Getting Customers to Go from One Product to Many
Joe Rooney, senior VP of marketing for Cox Communications Inc., put it
simply: "It's the bundle, baby. That's our mantra at Cox. What's easier than one
[bill]?" He described telephony as a "great business and a true differentiator,"
even though it's a complicated business, with a lot of regulation.
According to Rooney, the reliability of cable's high-speed Internet service
has helped to convince customers to also get their phone service from Cox.
When Insight, pitching telephony, gets questions from subscribers about the
reliability, Graff said he asks them, "When was your last [cable] outage?"
Subscribers usually concede that they haven't had an outage in a while.
Ed Tettemer, president of ad agency Red Tettemer -- which counts Insight and
Comcast Corp. as clients -- said operators have to give consumers a reason for
them to believe they need to switch and buy their phone service from cable. And,
according to Tettemer, "What's broken is the bill."
The panelists were all jazzed about the edge HDTV, as part of a package,
afforded cable over direct-broadcast satellite. "Digital cable is a tough sell
at retail," Rooney said. "HD changes that."