Earnings: Comcast Heads For Internet 2.0


The Comcast earnings call covered lots of ground but several of exchanges stood out:
— Asked about advertising, an area Comcast has focused on intensely of late, Chairman & CEO Brian Roberts mentioned “a big meeting” yesterday at Comcast headquarters and described their strategy as “bringing Internet-type functionality to your television.” Those kind of features and control are “completely applicable to the advertising market” and he sees the trend continuing. (He didn’t mention specifically the deal with TiVo that incorporates advertising with functionality.) “If you look at the success of a company like Google, which is able to take and give an advertiser exactly the customer they want, the goal here … is to see if we can’t deliver that same experience but with a better end product which is a TV commercial, not just a link.”
— Asked how Comcast is positioning itself to deal with the content providers now leveraging their fat broadband pipe, Roberts replied: “Looking down the road, I think there is a new energy and excitement. It’s kind of the old chicken and egg and I think we have reached yet another milestone between cable and DSL of what broadband can do and where broadband is at.” He talked about a focus on relationships with “content” but shied away from the traditional mainstream media definition.
“There are more business plans being presented to us, and I’m sure to others, every day, that it almost feels like a throwback to a few years ago, where there is an an energy of venture capital firms, entrepreneurs, who see the capabilities. … Somebody yesterday called it Internet 2, … it’s just way different than what you could do four, five years ago.” He sees implications for the traditional businesses but “we think it is all friendly to drive broadband to yet deeper penetration. Some of these services are going to want our help in
marketing and there’s a potential for new revenues and there’s a potential for additional services that we can start ourselves.
And whether that plays out or not, I’m pretty certain you are going to see broadband be the center piece for a lot of innovations.”
Roberts responded to a question about wireless and the possibility of an MVNO by stressing — not for the first time — the need for a seamless experience between wired and wireless. “And whether you call that an MVNO or whether you call
that a marketing relationship, whatever, that’s certainly one way that we are talking and looking at it.” He added, “We really have nothing to report. We also don’t believe today that it’s had any kind of sizable effect at all on our business to not be in this business.
There are numerous wireless providers; many, many people have already bought their phones. It tends to be a decision driven by how good the coverage area is in your personal commute or your personal area of life and we don’t think it relates directly to your video or high-speed data buying decisions.”
Re competition and possible partners, he added: “There are still four carriers and I think there’s a lot of interest in next generation working together. That’s something that we’re talking about and working on, but nothing to report.”
You can listen to the full webcast; WSJ subs have access to the full, slightly buggy transcript.

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