Cable Execs Debunk Netflix Bogeyman

12:00 PM -- Who's afraid of the big, bad Netflix?

Apparently no one in the cable industry.

While Netflix is often the poster child for the over-the-top (OTT) video threat, as both a successful seller of on-demand content and a bandwidth hog, cable execs on stage at The Cable Show this week repeatedly went out of their way to say they don't see Netflix as a real rival.

The attitude seems to be one of "bring it on, we're ready," which is something very different from what is often heard on the telco and wireless side. Instead of talking about new ways of monetizing their broadband services to count usage or bandwidth consumption, or looking for any kind of regulatory help, the cable guys claim to at least to be ready to compete.

Michael Willner, vice chairman and CEO of Insight Communications Co. Inc. , said in a keynote panel Wednesday that he's happy for anything that uses the "big thick broadband pipe" that cable provides into the home, because his company is going to continue improving its own video products to make them more competitive, with more interactivity and on-demand features.

Robert Marcus, president and COO of Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), followed up those comments by deriding the quality of what Netflix can offer -- even with its foray into original content, Netflix lacks live sports or other crucial content to compete.

"Part of the attraction is cheapness of that service -- cheapness and robust offering don't go hand in hand," he said.

Multiple cable execs touted tablets as their new best friends -- devices over which they can offer new types of video services and new interactivity. The real challenge, it seems, is in finding ways to measure viewership on these new devices as well as online, and in getting to market quickly with interactive features that let audiences participate in live programming.

These guys may just be talking a good game, but at least they've come to play.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:01:34 PM
re: Cable Execs Debunk Netflix Bogeyman

I heard several cable execs talking up how Netflix and OTT services like it may soon be integrated in their STBs. Maybe they're not scared because they don't actually understand what Netflix is...

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:01:33 PM
re: Cable Execs Debunk Netflix Bogeyman

Well, I think I would only be scared if I saw a decline in Premium Digital Services.




DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:01:33 PM
re: Cable Execs Debunk Netflix Bogeyman

Netflix is demand-creation for premium broadband services. It makes the broadband pipe indispensable. 

For Comcast, which owns content companies, every Netflix bit it carries could be delivering content that it owns and was paid a licensing fee. So in a roundabout way Comcast is being paid to deliver Comcast content that Comcast is being paid to distribute.

How could cable not like that?

Another thing (that no one wants to say): Netflix doesn't trade in porn, so there is a not a huge revenue loss problem for what may be the most profitable type of VoD that the cable cos deliver.


fanfare 12/5/2012 | 5:01:32 PM
re: Cable Execs Debunk Netflix Bogeyman

Netflix QoS is far better than what my cable co has to offer. Sure, I get 300+ chans on cable, but most of those channels and the content they offer don't look good on my new Samsung 1080p .. .heck, even in 720 the content looks bad. Netflix movies and shows look a heck of a lot better.  In fact, I cut the cord from my cable company over 2 years ago and used only netflix for those two years.  I tried cable again after getting a new TV, but kept it for only 2 weeks then decided to get Direct TV which has more HD. The point here is that cable co's should be worried. Whether it is Netflix, sattelite, or some OTT over IP offering we have not seen yet, IMO cable is going to be finding itself in the back seat unless it catches up with the rest of the world.

I think the only issue Netflix has is access to content.  They have a very workable model with proprietary applications that distribute content with good QoS. I agree, currently they are not there for live sporting events, but IMO a lot of these events are getting too expensive for the gen-pop to watch.  If you've tried to watch a good boxing match, or MMA lately you may find that it will cost you $50 to watch one match. MLB and NFL tickets are $300 and $500 a year extra if you want to be sure to watch your team play. I don't think people are going to continue to pay a cable company $100/mo for repeat content and then fork out the extras just to watch sports. I'd rather pay Netflix $8 a month for repeat content ... then pay the $500 extra to watch football.  What do I need cable for other than to offer me a broadband pipe until FTTH becomes available in my area.

Cable is heading toward becoming dummy pipe services IMO unless they catch up with the rest of the world. Like the music industry, people are going to start to realize that they are paying too much for too little, and IP distribution is going to allow people to start choosing what they want and putting fewer $$ into the industry.  Those who will get those $$ will be the ones who are using IP tech to save costs for themselves and the consumers.

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