& cplSiteName &

Charter Bets on New Name

Alan Breznick
11/15/2013
50%
50%

Following in the footsteps of Comcast and Cablevision Systems, Charter Communications intends to start pitching its video and broadband services under a new brand name early next year.

Charter Communications Inc. , the fourth largest MSO in the US, said it will begin marketing its core cable services under the Charter Spectrum banner some time during the first quarter of 2014. The re-branding will be rolled out in conjunction with Charter's upgrade of its markets to all-digital networks, a process that has shifted into high gear and is expected to be completed by the end of next year. (See Charter Rolls Out TV Everywhere.)

Charter is thus heading down the same paths as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), which have also introduced new brand names for their cable products because of poor reputations for customer service. Cablevision adopted Optimum as its brand more than a decade ago while Comcast started using Xfinity as its moniker of choice in 2010. Both companies have enjoyed great success with the re-branding.

But, unlike the other two big US MSOs, Charter will keep the parent company name in its new brand. So the impact of its re-branding efforts could be more muted.

The re-branding move comes just a week after Charter CEO Tom Rutledge strongly hinted that a new moniker for the company's products was in the works. Speaking on the MSO's third-quarter earnings call last week, Rutledge said the time had come for Charter to re-brand itself because of its all-digital push, the corresponding doubling of its HD channel lineup, its recent introduction of a TV Everywhere service, and other efforts to beef up its video product portfolio. "It's time for us to more aggressively promote Charter video," he said.

Indeed, hampered by high debt, tight budgets, and a lack of major metro markets, Charter has lagged behind its big MSO counterparts on the video front for years. At least partly as a result, Charter, which closed the third quarter with nearly 4.2 million video subscribers, now delivers video services to just 34 percent of the homes that it passes, far lower than most major cable operators. It also has 1.3 million broadband-only customers, up 26 percent from slightly more than 1 million a year ago. That number is relatively high in an industry that has emphasized double-play and triple-play bundles for most of the the past decade.

"Our broadband-only growth has been greater than I thought it would be," Rutledge said, noting his surprise. In large part, he attributed this development to Charter's "inferior" video portfolio over the past few years.

Yet the Charter chief views the company's rapidly growing non-video customer base as an asset as well, because it gives the MSO a sizable target audience for its new video products. "I see the 1.3 million broadband-only customers as a real selling opportunity for us," he said.

The re-branding move also comes as Charter seeks to burnish its customer service reputation, which has also lagged behind the service reputations of other major MSOs. Despite some recent improvements on that scale, Rutledge has set his sights higher.

"We've gone from worst to average customer service," he said. "I think we need to be more than above average."

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

(8)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
11/19/2013 | 9:54:03 PM
Re: Rutledge's honest admissions...
I agree, Karl. Before buyout a TW Cable, Charter should get better at what it does and see how far it can go that way, particularly given the eweak statre of telco competition in many of its markets. But I fear Mr. Malone may not agree with us.
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/19/2013 | 9:39:49 AM
Re: Rutledge's honest admissions...
They're fortunate in that their broadband service outmatches AT&T's generally (users in our forums continually complain that the 45 Mbps tier isn't actually available to all that many people, like nobody in MDUs). As AT&T backs away from more unwanted DSL areas I think we'll see companies like Charter's fortunes improve -- as they'll start seeing larger monopoly power in a growing number of markets companies like AT&T don't want.

Still though, they probably should focus on offering a quality product and a little less time on feeding acquisition rumors to the press. :)
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
11/17/2013 | 5:57:14 PM
Re: Rutledge's honest admissions...
Yeah, Karl. I agree. I'm not sure how much of a difference this brand refresh will make when Charter is keeping its parent company name in the new brand moniker and has teed off customers in the way you describe. Interestingly, Rutledge says U-verse's increased deployment in Charter areas hasn't had much of an impact on the MSO yet. We shall see.  
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
11/17/2013 | 5:54:21 PM
Re: Re-branding
You hit the nail on the head, Dan. That's exactly what they're trying to do. But I'm not sure how Charter can achieve even that when it plans to keep its parent company name in the new brand moniker. Seems a wishy washy decision to me. 
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
11/17/2013 | 5:52:14 PM
Re: Let's go Mess...
At leasy he's honest about it. Pretty refreshing for a cable CEO, I'd say.
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/16/2013 | 9:22:52 AM
Let's go Mess...
"We've gone from worst to average..." Progress!
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
11/15/2013 | 9:17:21 PM
Re-branding
It's really not that much of a re-branding if the company name is still part of it. I've never really understood what the cable companies are trying to do with these new brands, other than disassociate from negative perceptions of cable TV customer service.
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/15/2013 | 4:35:52 PM
Rutledge's honest admissions...
I really though Rutledge's clear admission that their video services weren't very good right now very refreshing. Very un CEO-like of him.

I assume that like Time Warner Cable's upcoming "Max" brand refresh, these upgrades will be primarily targeted at FiOS and U-Verse markets first and foremost.

Still, I wonder if a brand refresh will be enough to cure what ails them. Part of the user defections can be traced to cable's stubborn refusal to compete on price, and many are moving further away from promotions (see Cablevision).

Charter's also done a lot of little things lately that may have teed off customers, like killing their social media support team across all platforms, or ceasing their support of customer-owned modems. 
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
Can Cable Climb Upmarket?

12|7|16   |     |   (0) comments


Carol Wilson and Alan Breznick assess cable's prospects for winning more enterprises in a landscape rocked by corporate M&A activity.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
TalkTalk Exec: Find Your North Star at Work

12|7|16   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


Women need to find their purpose, a professional North Star, and create a personal board for themselves, according to Alex Tempest, director of partners at TalkTalk Business.
LRTV Interviews
Verizon: Beware Unknown Unknowns

12|7|16   |   04:58   |   (0) comments


Chris Novak, director of the Verizon Enterprise Solutions Risk Team, explains that enterprises who don't conduct a thorough audit of their assets often leave some things unprotected because they don't know they exist. Many times these unprotected assets are part of corporate M&A activity but left unshielded they can become a hacker's playground, he tells Light ...
LRTV Interviews
ETSI's CTO Talks NFV, 5G & NGP

12|5|16   |   09:45   |   (0) comments


Adrian Scrase, CTO at standards body ETSI, talks about the various initiatives and specifications developments related to NFV, 5G and NGP (next-generation protocols) that will underpin next-gen networks.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Korn Ferry Consultant: How to Find, Cultivate & Be the Best Talent

11|30|16   |   4:10   |   (2) comments


Erin Callaghan, a managing consultant for Korn Ferry Futurestep, shares strategies for companies to improve how they recruit and for women to ensure they don't get lost in the pipeline.
LRTV Custom TV
We Can Make the World More Sustainable

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


GeSI is a global e-Sustainability Initiative organization bringing together 40 big multinational companies around the world. According to GeSI's report, information and communication technology can make the world more sustainable. Luis Neves, chairman of GeSI, shared with us his opinion at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Finding a New Way to Engage Customers & Drive Revenue

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Mobile revenues are declining. Digicel, a player in the Caribbean telecommunications/entertainment space, has found a new way to engage customers and drive revenue. John Quinn, CTO of Digicel, shared with us its story at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016)
LRTV Custom TV
Do You Really Need Gigabit Infrastructure?

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Altibox is the biggest fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) player and the largest provider of video and TV in Norway. They started out with zero customers in 2002. Now they have close to half a million households and companies attached to their FTTH business. Nils Arne, CEO of Altibox shared with us their story and insight on 5G at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
BTís Openreach Strategy & Its Updates in 2016

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


A lot of developments at Openreach this year in terms of strategy and planned investments. Peter Bell, CIO of Openreach BT, shared with us the updates of Openreach at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
ITU: The Broadband Is Our Future

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


At Ultra-broadband Forum, Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of ITU, discussed how important it is for countries, companies and everybody to be working together to help to build the broadband and digital economies (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Tackling 5G in Dallas

11|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


Here are our highlights of the 5G North America show in Dallas, Texas with Light Reading's Dan Jones.
LRTV Interviews
Cox Prepping for Virtualization Trials

11|14|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this video interview, Cox's Jeff Finkelstein discusses MSO's plans to test managed business services in early 2017 and tackle Distributed Access Architectures.
Upcoming Live Events
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Cable Nodes Becoming a Choke Point
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 12/5/2016
WiCipedia: After-School Coding, Salary Probing & Pro-Parenthood Companies
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 12/2/2016
Consolidated Snaps Up Fairpoint for $1.5B
Iain Morris, News Editor, 12/5/2016
Altice FTTH Bill Could Hit Almost $9.6B in US
Iain Morris, News Editor, 12/1/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Even when there's a strong pipeline of female talent in the comms industry, it tends to leak all the way to the top. McKinsey & Company says women experience pipeline leakage at three primary points: being unable to enter, being stuck in the middle or being locked out of the top. Each pipeline pain point presents its own challenges, but also opportunities to stop the leak. Wireless operator Sprint is making a conscious effort to improve its own pipeline from new recruits to the C-suite, and it wants the rest of the industry to do the same. In this Women in Comms radio show, WiC Board Member and Sprint Vice President of Enterprise Sales Nelly Pitocco will give us her take on the industry's pipeline challenges. Pitocco, who joined Sprint in May and has spent 20 years in the comms industry, will also offer solutions, share how Sprint is tackling the challenge within its own organization and take your questions live on air.