& cplSiteName &

TWC: Maxxing Out Too Late?

Alan Breznick
8/6/2014
50%
50%

Racing to boost broadband speeds and upgrade its cable systems over to all-digital video delivery before its pending takeover by Comcast, Time Warner Cable is almost desperately trying to make up for lost time.

The move prompts me to ask two big questions. First, how much catching up can it achieve during the next five or six months? And second, what took it so long to make a real commitment?

During the company's recent second-quarter earnings call, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) executives laid out plans to extend the operator's TWC Maxx initiative to at least a third major US market before the end of the year: In addition to rolling out TWC Maxx in New York and Los Angeles, the MSO is now prepping to launch the program in Austin, Texas this year.

It then plans to extend the program to seven more markets -- Charlotte, Dallas, Hawaii, Kansas City, Raleigh, San Antonio and San Diego -- by the end of 2015.

Under that much-ballyhooed TWC Maxx program, TW Cable is upgrading its video systems to all-digital delivery in each target market. It's also boosting its top broadband speeds to 300 Mbit/s in each market, as well as upgrading its customer service and installation operations.

Besides accelerating the deployment of TWC Maxx, Time Warner Cable is furiously rolling out its new cloud-based programming guide throughout its regions, placing in nearly 6 million digital cable set-tops, or about 40% of its set-top box base. Plus, the MSO is expanding its TV Everywhere app to more video platforms, such as FanTV.

There's no question that these are all smart moves. While such other major US MSOs as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cox Communications Inc. , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) and even long-time laggard Charter Communications Inc. have all committed to all-digital upgrades, broadband speed increases and advanced cloud-based guides and video services, TWC has generally lagged well behind its counterparts.

As a result, TWC has been losing basic video customers by the boatload for years, while struggling to make significant gains in broadband and voice subs. In 2013 alone, for example, the company shed an astounding 825,000 video customers, which is more than most cable companies have in total.

Under the more aggressive leadership of new Chairman & CEO Rob Marcus, TW Cable officials are gamely battling to stem those losses. But TWC still lost 152,000 video subscribers and 34,000 overall residential customers in the spring quarter, while netting just 67,000 broadband and 69,000 voice customers. Although it was actually the MSO's best second quarter in four years, that's not saying much, given the company's heavy video customer losses and lackluster high-speed data and VoIP sub gains in previous springs.

Putting up a brave front, TWC executives insist they have turned their big ship around and are heading in the right direction again. Citing a lower volume of customer complaints and higher usage of their new video and broadband products, they say the customer metrics are beginning to reflect that progress as well. (See TWC Cuts Video Losses, Boosts Data Gains.)


For more of Light Reading's coverage of cable and video services trends, visit our video services content channel.


I believe they're probably right: If this combination of smarter strategy and better execution has worked well for Comcast and Charter, there's no reason why it shouldn't work for TWC as well, at least in theory.

But why did it take so painfully long for TW Cable execs to make the right moves, which seemed to be obvious to everybody but them? Why did it take the near-doomsday threat of a hostile takeover by Charter and the dark lord, John Malone, to make them change course? Just what were they waiting for?

And, with Comcast getting ready to swallow up most of TWC's systems and carve up the rest for Charter, all these last-minute initiatives may not matter all that much in the end. TWC Maxx could rapidly fade into cable history as Comcast and Charter put their own respective upgrade programs into play.

Too bad TW Cable officials didn't make all these moves two, three or four years ago. If they had, they might still have had a company to run next year.

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

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
8/8/2014 | 6:49:00 PM
Re: Timing
mhhf1ve - I rememer something a CEO said at a previous company when the business was under a lot of turmoil: Keep moving forward, keep firing your weapon. I didn't love the military metaphor, but I appreciate the sentiment. 

Like many people, I worked in fast food restaurants when I was in college. I learned something very valuable about jobs then: Whatever's going on in the corporate level, when you've got a long line of people queued up for breakfast, they gotta be fed. 
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/6/2014 | 2:21:41 PM
Re: Timing
If the merger falls through... I suppose TWC has some kind of backup plan in motion. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
8/6/2014 | 1:37:51 PM
Timing
I wonder whether the timing has anything to do with the acquisition. 
More Blogs from Breznick Unbound
Two Wall Street analysts have now concluded that Verizon stands to gain much more from marrying Charter than vice versa.
The big question is how President-elect Trump will react to the attempt by AT&T and Time Warner to circumvent FCC review of their proposed deal.
While 2016 has been a mild year for cord-cutting, the phenomenon could take off next year with the launch of new OTT video services from Hulu, YouTube, Facebook and others.
Thanks to its recent takeovers of Time Warner Cable and Bright House, Charter is nipping at Comcast's heels for the cable lead in the business services market.
Light Reading and SCTE/ISBE are tackling virtualization technologies together in both a Sept. 21 webinar and a Sept. 27 breakfast forum.
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
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
MWC 2017's Key 2-Letter Terms

2|20|17   |   08:29   |   (1) comment


5G, AI, VR... these are just some of the two-letter terms that will dominate show-floor chat at MWC 2017 in Barcelona, according to these two blow-hards (a.k.a. Scott Bicheno of Telecoms.com and Light Reading's Ray Le Maistre). And then there's PB...
LRTV Interviews
Key Trends for Mobile Operators in Developing Markets

2|20|17   |   06:37   |   (0) comments


Ovum's Matthew Reed talks to Scott Bicheno from Telecoms.com about the challenges and opportunities facing mobile operators in the developing markets of Africa and the Middle East.
LRTV Documentaries
YouTube Takes on Facebook Live-Streaming

2|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


Popular 'YouTubers' will be the first to get the new service on their smartphones. You have been warned.
LRTV Custom TV
Open Source NFV/SDN Automation

2|17|17   |   05:54   |   (0) comments


AT&T ECOMP (Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy) code is transitioning into the Linux Foundation for placement into open source. In this video, Carol Wilson provides an update on the maturation of open source ECOMP and meets with industry leaders from AT&T, Bell Canada, Orange, Linux Foundation and Amdocs to discuss what this means for the ...
LRTV Documentaries
Uber & NASA Collaborate on Flying Car Project

2|16|17   |     |   (0) comments


Is Uber for real? Well, it's hired NASA engineer Mark Moore to lead the project, and he wouldn't come cheap.
LRTV Documentaries
Zuckerberg Tries Out the Oculus Rift VR Glove

2|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Facebook CEO shows off a new way to interact with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset: an Oculus glove.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Digital Transformation Forum 2017

2|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


Here's a preview of the upcoming Huawei Digital Transformation Forum taking place in Barcelona with trending telecom topics like cloud, IoT, 5G and much more!
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Dan Sahar of Qwilt on Open Edge Cloud Platform

2|8|17   |   08:38   |   (0) comments


Dan Sahar, Qwilt's co-founder, sits down with Steve Saunders of Light Reading for a conversation about Qwilt's Open Edge Cloud platform and the new role of service providers in application and content delivery.
LRTV Documentaries
ZeroStack's 'Self-Driving Cloud'

2|7|17   |   01:09   |   (0) comments


Its Z-Brain tech automates day-to-day management and long-term planning for hybrid clouds.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Nominum's Craig Sprosts on DNS & Cybersecurity Trends

2|7|17   |     |   (0) comments


Nominum's Craig Sprosts talks about the fast-changing landscape of cybersecurity with Steve Saunders of Light Reading. Sprosts touches on the trend of the rise of ransomwares, rivals of IoT base attacks, and mobile network security. He also discusses the realization of the importance of IoT security after a recent cyber attack that paralyzed several major ...
LRTV Documentaries
China Moves Towards Mixed Ownership of Telcos

2|1|17   |   01:10   |   (0) comments


Chinese authorities are promoting new ownership models in order to raise capital.
Shades of Ray
What to Expect at MWC 2017

1|31|17   |     |   (0) comments


5G is set to dominate as the key buzz term at this year's Mobile World Congress but there are other pressing 4G matters to address.
Upcoming Live Events
March 21-22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
March 22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
March 22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
T-Mobile CEO: M&A Coming but Not Quite Yet
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 2/14/2017
Is the Time Right for a Cisco/Ericsson Wedding?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/17/2017
Nice to See at Least One CSP Taking My Advice
Mitch Wagner, Editor, Enterprise Cloud, 2/17/2017
Charter Launches 5G Field Trials
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/16/2017
WiCipedia: Fintech Flexibility, Snap Missteps & Women of Wearables
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 2/17/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders chats with Sportlogiq CEO Craig Buntin about sports data analysis.
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.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.