& 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
Now that Sony has launched a 4K movie streaming service and AT&T/DirecTV is broadcasting golf and baseball action in UHD, is 4K video ready to go prime time?
Did CableLabs jump the gun by announcing its Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 initiative so early? Some senior cable technologists think so, and so do I.
LR's cable next-gen tech event in Denver this week will tackle prospects for DOCSIS 3.1, Full Duplex DOCSIS and other key industry initiatives.
North American viewers with UHD sets and set-tops will now get to watch soccer, hockey and basketball games in 4K, thanks to moves by Videotron, Univision, Neulion and others.
Report from Leichtman Research Group drives home the need for pay-TV providers to incorporate Internet video services into their overall video offerings immediately.
From The Founder
Download our complete guide to de-risking NFV deployment in 2016, including:
  • An eight-step strategy to deploying NFV safely, based on input from the companies that have already started virtualizing their production networks.
  • Interviews with leading executives at Colt, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, Nokia, ZTE, Ericsson and Heavy Reading.
  • Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Prepping for the Future: Upskill U Explained
    During this short kick-off video, Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco, and Light Reading’s CEO & Founder Steve Saunders give an overview of Upskill U.
    LRTV Interviews
    AT&T Expert on the Key Pillars of UC

    4|29|16   |   03:58   |   (0) comments


    Vishy Gopalakrishnan, AVP of product marketing at AT&T, talks about the three developments that are making unified communications and collaboration secure and reliable for enterprise users.
    LRTV Documentaries
    LRTV Report: Mobile Core Innovation

    4|28|16   |   25:32   |   (0) comments


    Hear from multiple industry experts from Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, Heavy Reading, Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, NEC and many more about developments in the mobile core as operators virtualize their IMS and evolved packet core systems and prepare for a 5G world.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    NFV World Congress Highlight

    4|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


    The highlight of the NFV World Congress contains exciting telecom news. Join us for an inside look at Huawei's ICT 2020 plan and its latest collaboration with industry leaders.
    LRTV Interviews
    Unified Comms Finds Its Voice

    4|25|16   |   03:44   |   (0) comments


    Peter Quinlan, VP of UCC Product Management at Tata Communications, talks about the evolution of the unified communications and collaboration services sector and how voice is now a big part of current developments.
    LRTV Documentaries
    So... What Do We Do Now?

    4|25|16   |   03:24   |   (0) comments


    After a long hiatus, Max Dingman, the CEO of a GeeGhiz, returns for a motivational board room pep talk.
    LRTV Documentaries
    NAB 2016 Highlights

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Light Reading's Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick climbs down from the slots to tell us about the latest news in broadcast technology at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Deepfield's Craig Labovitz

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Shades of Ray
    Leading Lights 2016: Shortlists Announced

    4|20|16   |   0:53   |   (0) comments


    The judging is over and the Leading Lights 2016 shortlists have been published -- you can see who made the cut by clicking on this link.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Introducing MulteFire – Qualcomm at MWC 2016

    4|18|16   |   3.29   |   (0) comments


    MulteFire is the latest option for using LTE in unlicensed spectrum. As oppose to its close 'siblings', LAA and LTE-U, MulteFire operates solely in unlicensed spectrum, which enables it to offer the best of two worlds – LTE-like performance with WiFi-like deployment simplicity. In this interview, Sanjeev Athalye, Sr. Director, Product Management at Qualcomm ...
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Grant Van Rooyen of Cologix

    4|18|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    ONS 2016 – Demonstration of Huawei's NetMatrix Multi-Vendor SDN Orchestrator

    4|15|16   |     |   (0) comments


    This demonstration shows how Huawei's NetMatrix SDN Orchestrator (SDN-O) addresses an operator's core service agility needs for services spanning multi-domain, multivendor networks: it includes a demonstration of:
    - Rapid New Service Design: using YANG to model a complex example of multi-domain, multivendor L3VPN network connectivity service that ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    AT&T Wants to Own North Carolina

    4|15|16   |     |   (1) comment


    Venessa Harrison, president of North Carolina for AT&T, tells how the company will expand its GigaPower service beyond the seven N.C. cities it already serves.

  • This blog, sponsored by AT&T, is the second part of a ten-part series examining next-generation broadband technologies titled "Behind the Speeds."
  • Upcoming Live Events
    May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
    May 23, 2016, Austin Convention Center
    May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    December 6-8, 2016,
    June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
    Hot Topics
    Ultra-Broadband Summit, Hong Kong
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/27/2016
    Mitel Asks: What Time of Day Do You Shower?
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/25/2016
    GoT Fans Curse HBO (Not Right) Now
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/25/2016
    Charter Jumps Gun on TWC Restructuring
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/26/2016
    LoRa Alliance Defends Tech Against Sigfox Slur
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/28/2016
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    Animals with Phones
    Live Digital Audio

    Of all the tech companies in the Valley, Intel has made the most aggressive commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. It's doing so by taking concrete, measurable steps, making a large financial investment and through a commitment to complete transparency about its progress. In this radio show, WiC Director Sarah Thomas will be joined by Shlomit Weiss, Intel's Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager of Networking Engineering, who will share with us why Intel is tackling this huge challenge, how and to what effect. She will also discuss her unique experiences leading development of Client SOC development in the past and today leading development of all of the chipmaker's silicon hardware for networking IPs and discrete devices and managing a team of 600 engineers across Israel, Europe and the US.