Video services

Charter Keeps RS-DVR on Sidelines

Charter Communications Inc. 's strategic priorities for 2012 call for it to "change the dynamic" of its video business, but the RS-DVR, a service CEO Tom Rutledge championed when he was at Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), won't be in the mix.

"The RS-DVR ultimately is a strategy for enhancing the value of the network and moving intelligence into the network and reducing CPE [costs], but I'm not sure it's an immediate priority for Charter," Rutledge said on Monday's fourth-quarter earnings call. (See Ex-Cablevision COO Becomes Charter CEO and Cablevision's Network DVR Debuts in the Bronx .)

While Charter's architecture can accommodate an RS-DVR, the company, instead, is tightly integrating devices and services from TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO). Charter has already deployed the TiVo Premiere DVR and user interface in Ft. Worth, Texas. Its plan to introduce the service across its footprint by mid-year is delayed because of additional integration and testing between TiVo devices and the operator's Charter's video-on-demand (VoD) back-office systems, executives say. (See Charter Plugs TiVo Into Arris's VoD Back-Office.)

Other strategic priorities
In addition to tweaking its video platform, Charter's strategic plan also calls for focus in three other areas: driving subscription growth with Internet products; boosting commercial service revenues and improving customer service.

Charter says 93 percent of its plant has been upgraded to Docsis 3.0, with 95 percent of its customers taking a service with downstream speeds of 15Mbit/s or higher. The MSO said business services revenues rose by 21.7 percent in the fourth quarter, giving it $583 million for the year. Charter ended the year with 1,400 cell towers on its backhaul product, with another 300-plus under contract. And, the company said, its newest customers are more satisfied with the company's services than tenured subscribers.

Q4 snapshot
The MSO posted a net loss of $67 million, or 63 cents a share, on revenues of $1.83 billion. Revenues were in-line, but Wall Street had expected a loss of 29 cents. Charter lost 49,700 video customers during the quarter, but added 67,000 high-speed Internet customers. It also signed up 27,500 new home phone subscribers, nearly 4,000 fewer than it signed up during the year-ago quarter.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:41:17 PM
re: Charter Keeps RS-DVR on Sidelines

Rutledge did remind everyone that Charter and Cablevision aren't the same company, so perhaps not everyone should expect Charter to do everything that Cablevision did under his watch.  Cablevision's much more clustered (except for the Bresnan properties) than Cablevision, so it's a bit more difficult to deploy something wide all at once.

And don't expect Charter to go crazy with outdoor WiFi like Cablevision did, either. At least not yet.  For now, Charter's more interested in providing Wi-Fi in the home as part of a home networking package for HSD subs, estimating that one-third of its broadband customers opt for it.

But these are early days for the *new* Charter. Rutledge has only been on the new job full time for two-weeks, and said he is "not prepared to announce a new strategy for Charter today." But I imagine he's got one cookin'.



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