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.