Roberts: Customer Service, Execution Top Priorities

Says Disappointed TWC Terminated, Company Has ‘Moved On’
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Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the cable giant will focus on organic growth and customer service in the wake of its aborted attempt to acquire Time Warner Cable, telling analysts that the company will focus on execution for the foreseeable future.

“Of course we’re disappointed,” Roberts said on Comcast’s earnings conference call in regards to the termination of the Time Warner Cable transaction.  “But it was a unique, one-off situation. We’ve moved on.”

Roberts praised his cable team for remaining focused on the business despite the distraction of the TWC approval process, adding that the company’s priorities remain the same, executing on its business plans, with customer service an underlying focus across all business segments.

“If I had to pick one [priority],” Roberts added, “it would be to continue to make the experience, if you’re a Comcast customer, better all the time.”

He noted that the company plans to make several customer service announcements at INTX: The Internet & Television Expo this week in Chicago.

Roberts deflected several questions on whether Comcast would focus on international or wireless M&A opportunities, adding the company will focus on accelerating the rollout of its X-1 platform and other products. Cable division CEO Neil Smit noted that X-1 customers are less likely to churn and purchase more services. Smit said that voluntary churn rates are 20% to 30% lower and VOD purchase rates are  20% to 30% higher for X-1 customers.

At NBC Universal, CEO Steve Burke had no comment on Verizon’s Custom TV skinny bundle, which several programmers – including NBC – have said violate their existing carriage agreements. ESPN sued Verizon on April 27 over the service, which Verizon claims is well within the confines of its existing programming contracts.

Vice chairman and chief financial officer Michael Angelakis, who will be leaving that post to take on a new role as CEO of an investment fund backed with $4 billion from Comcast, noted that retransmission consent revenue for its NBC television stations as soared over the past years, and is expected to reach about $500 million in 2015. During the call, Angelakis noted that four or five years ago, retrans revenue for the broadcaster was in the single-digit millions of dollars.

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