Glenn Britt, the former CEO of Time Warner Cable, passed away at his home in New York City. He was 65. Britt had stepped down from the role of CEO in January and was replaced by Rob Marcus, who agreed to sell Time Warner Cable to Comcast less than two months after his appointment.
Britt, who took on the CEO role in 2001, had a 41-year career in the cable TV industry, watching it grow from a TV-focused product to one that included broadband and voice. While Britt helmed Time Warner Cable when it famously tried to implement usage-based pricing (with plans ranging from 5 GB to 40 GB a month) in 2008, he also revised the plan after a public outcry and later abandoned the plan when New York State lawmakers put pressure on the company.
In many ways, I considered Britt the least objectionable of the cable executives and generally felt lucky to have Time Warner Cable as my ISP in the last few years (in recent months, that feeling has dissipated). While broadband caps have spread across the industry, Britt kept Time Warner Cable broadband free of usage caps or tiers and began extolling the value of services like Netflix as a way to get consumers to sign up for faster and more expensive broadband. He also experimented with bringing in Roku set-top boxes and even had a deal back in 2007 with FON for sharing Wi-Fi.
His retirement signaled a loss of the old guard, used to dealing with the pay TV business and struggling to figure out how to deal with the looming impact that broadband would have on that business. He oversaw the transition from analog cable to digital and the development of the TWC internet products. After his retirement from the CEO role the company moved quickly to consolidate with Comcast, a company that has a much more mercenary view of the role demand for broadband has to play in its business.
Time Warner Cable has created an comprehensive tribute page to Britt that also acts as a history of cable TV over his career. There’s some good content there, such as the video below of Britt discussing the birth of TWC’s internet products.