Blog Post

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Unplugged

Stephanie Mehta of Fortune Magazine put some tough questions (from Fortune readers) to Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast Corp. (CMCSA). He gave refreshingly honest answers for a CEO. His stock is out of favor with Wall Street, but it is good to know that the most powerful man in cable (I didn’t say most liked man!) is not suffering from the denial-disease.

On Competition from telcos and satellite companies.

A majority of homes now have broadband. There’s growth, but it will be slower growth. What I hope we will prove with subsequent performance is that we have new products…. We face competition from satellite companies, phone companies, and other cable overbuilders, and that’s forced us to become a better company.

On Online Video

Content on the Internet appears more like an opportunity than a threat. It will cause many people to switch from DSL to the faster cable broadband because video-rich content works better on cable modem. Some 60% of our broadband sales this quarter came from people [leaving] DSL. I think that’s a result of customers wanting to watch more video.

On Falling Stock Price

We’re having the second-best year in our history in terms of growth in new products. We grew 100% last year, and we’re on pace to grow another 30% this year in new products. We’re disappointed that growth wasn’t even faster, but we’re pleased that for every customer we lost in cable, we gained ten telephone customers.

On Even Faster Connections

At the national cable convention this year I demonstrated a technology called DOCSIS 3.0. We’ll start rolling this out in 2008. It provides up to 160 megabits or more of speed per second.

I have already said my piece. Let see if he can deliver.

His answer about customer service was lame, and that is a much bigger problem than competition from phone and satellite companies. I was surprised to find out that he admires both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, for different reasons, of course.

14 Responses to “Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Unplugged”

  1. As another former Comcast employee, I agree with Julies post. Comcast was made what it is today by the employees in the field who are now getting tromped on and I am glad I am no longer one of them. The lame claptrap Roberts spits out (while earning a cool $5+million a year ) about customer being “king” is a bunch of BUNK.
    I started as tech support with them when the internet service was just starting and in those days you stayed on the phone with the customer until you had resolution. No more…my email password was rejected by the SMTP server at noon on Tuesday and at 10:41pm on Wednesday is still out. I was told this evening, that in fact, if the first “ticket” did not end in a repair by this time tomorrow night, that they would open another “ticket” and the 72 hrs countdown would start over…. I think Mr Roberts is WELL REMOVED from what he is mouthing and what his employees are actually accomplishing in the field. Whenever they DO finally get it working, I will only be using their mail service to deal with those items that are still setting on their server out there, once those are clear… GMAIL HERE I COME….

  2. Julie Terrell

    Everyone knows how notorious cable companies are with customer service. What most people don’t know is how ruthless they can be to their own employees. It might explain some of the “bad attitudes” to understand the lack of loyalty employees feel in the cable industry. Perhaps Mr. Roberts may want to take a look at how some of the divisions of his FATHER’s company are treating the people who gave him the 100% growth over the last 2 years. Our family was so thrilled when Comcast came and offered my husband a spot in the spotlight division, they eagerly moved our well rooted family 900 miles away from a competing company. We moved into a deflated market and my husband is credited with turning the finances around in only 14 months. The division here has been like family. The people are great, too bad that track records and results don’t matter. Let’s look at the bottom line. Now after 4 years of continued growth, and positive annual reviews my husband was given a somewhat generous severance(based on his time with the company) and left with NO Job, No medical insurance for our diabetic child and out of state tuition for our child who has always planned to attend college in our home state but now will be out of state. Some newly added visionary has stepped in and shut down (consolidating work in another state, this will surely help customer service) several offices in your daddy’s company. Great choice in hiring there…. let’s drop the people who have worked so hard to get us here, thanks for the ride fellas. So while consumers whine about their cable options, just know that there were NO options for our family. With all the divisions and locations, you’d think that we would have been given some choice to stay with Comcast, but no, we can apply. SO Mr. Roberts, thanks for the Jelly of the Month Club Christmas Gift, if you don’t understand this reference, try watching Christmas Vacation, it’s on cable. In the mean time, no wonder your stock is plunging you reap what you sow.

  3. I’m not sure if this is nationwide or not, but on our local news last night they said Comcast is about to raise cable TV rates 4%. Luckily I have DirecTV so it doesn’t affect me, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cable internet price hike around the corner.

    @bootgun: How does it save you $1200 or more a year? Cable internet here is between $50 and $60 a month which is nowhere near that figure.

  4. Jesse Kopelman

    In Brian’s defense, his customer service is the best in the cable industry. Sure that’s like saying a turd is the least stinky, but it’s all about perspective.

    Anyway, how come nobody asked him why he doesn’t fire Ed Snider? The Sixers may well have the lowest wins/payroll dollar (counting coaches) in the NBA under his tenure — yes, even worse than the Knicks — and the Flyers aren’t really that much better.

  5. @Rik: It doesn’t require a phone line, you don’t have to login to anything and it’s faster. The only people I know who get DSL are willing to have a slower connection for the little bit of money they save (or they still have landlines and want it all on 1 bill).

    The biggest problem with Comcast is their customer service (or lack of). I cringe every time I have to call them. I get better customer service from other companies who have guys in India that I can’t understand.

  6. If my most recent experience with Comcast is any indication, the company is staffed by certified morons. When I moved in early September, it took a full month (and innumerable phone calls) to get Comcast to complete the transfer of account information to the new service address. Never in my life have I been so appalled at the sheer incompetence of practically everyone I spoke to about this matter. Truly unbelievable!

  7. Rick, I think the superiority lies with fibre over copper.

    As for CSR’s – the Comcast flavor truly are abysmal. As for speed, overdue – and the excuses are lame and outright lies. Comcast is being pushed, kicking and screaming, into offering what the rest of the world considers “usual”.

    Just like our “adventurous” cellphone companies.

    Fear of competition produces nothing like real backbone and leadership. But, that’s all that motivates footdraggers like Comcrap.