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2006, A Comcastic Year

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For all our wonderment about NewTeeVee, old TV is still a pretty good business, especially for cable giant Comcast. A required-reading profile of the company in Sunday’s New York Times notes that Wall Street believes in Comcast. Institutional bidders have made their move, sending its stock up a mountain in 2006 to its present peak of $44.79 at close of markets on Monday.

comcaststock.gifSome interesting takeaways from the story include CEO Brian Roberts’ belief that free video on demand is working as an enticement to greater VOD spending, and that cable is beating telcos to convergence since it’s easier — for now — to add phone and Internet service to the cable plant than it is for telcos to offer TV.

Think CEO Brian Roberts is worried about people buying Apple TV units and searching the Internet for content?

“If the consumer loves what we do, they will use it a lot and eventually they will pay for it,” he said. “We have seen a big increase in our pay-per-view business because people got in the habit of being able to watch programming on demand.”

It’s clear the race is on between cable and Internet TV, and cable has a huge lead. Interesting to note that neither the story nor Comcast thinks the free and open Internet is a content competitor. A final quote from Comcast’s No. 2, Stephen Burke:

“Technologies don’t just disappear,” Mr. Burke said. “Ten years from now, when you watch TV you will have a big screen and you will be watching through a big pipe in your house.” That pipe, or delivery system, “hopefully will be ours,” he added.

The only problem Comcast has: it doesn’t own a mobile operator. But that could be rectified quickly; AllTell and Sprint both can be had for the right price.