×

Comcast CEO: We Have Fewer Subscribers Than Netflix, Even After Time Warner Deal

Despite subscriber count, Comcast still posted revenue of $5.18 billion in Q1, nearly five times that of Netflix

Comcast continues to paint Netflix as a competitor, as the cable giant keeps trying to make the case that it needs to swallow Time Warner Cable to have a presence on a national scale — and compete with what it portrays as surging digital-video rivals.

Comcast chairman-CEO Brian Roberts, speaking on a panel at the Cable Show, said that with the TW Cable acquisition and subsequent spinoff of systems to Charter Communications, Comcast will add a net 7 million customers. That would give Comcast about 30 million video subscribers — and Roberts noted that Netflix now has more than 35 million U.S. subscribers.

The merger will give “the industry a better opportunity to have a footprint regionally and hopefully nationally,” Roberts said.

In reality, Comcast and Netflix aren’t really directly competitive: They offer different kinds of content, and Netflix is not a replacement for the broad programming available on pay TV. Comcast does offer a Netflix-like streaming service, Streampix, but that’s bundled with TV and has a much smaller content lineup.

In addition, Comcast’s video biz is far larger in dollar terms. Comcast posted $5.18 billion in video revenue for the first quarter of 2014, whereas Netflix generated $1.27 billion.

SEE ALSO: Comcast, Time Warner Cable Defend Union as Benefiting ‘Millions’ in FCC Filing

That hasn’t stopped Comcast from describing Netflix and others as looming threats to its pay-TV business. In its public-interest filing last month with the FCC, the MSO cited Netflix, Google’s YouTube, Apple iTunes and Amazon, which currently offers a streaming video service and just announced the Fire TV set-top as potential rivals.

“In the evolving video marketplace in which these companies have thrived, there is no reason why a cable company should be limited in evolving as well, especially one that has time and again demonstrated its willingness to meet and enhance competition through innovation and investment,” Comcast, together with Time Warner Cable, said in the FCC filing. “Added scale will make that innovation go faster and that investment go farther.”

With the explosion of video-capable devices, Comcast has accelerated its technology development to deliver more TV content to more screens, Roberts said. The operator now streams more than 50 live channels to devices outside the home and offers 25,000 video-on-demand choices on multiple platforms. “We couldn’t do that 24 months ago, or even 12 months ago,” he said.

Meanwhile, Comcast and Netflix have sparred in the public-policy arena, engaging in a war of words about fees the MSO is charging for higher-speed to deliver access to Internet video.

Netflix — reluctantly, it says — inked an agreement with Comcast in February, under which Netflix is paying for guaranteed access to bandwidth to the operator’s broadband customers. Netflix CEO and founder Reed Hastings has complained that big ISPs are extracting a “toll” from Netflix because they have leverage in the market, and the streaming-video company is opposing Comcast’s takeover bid for Time Warner Cable, saying the resulting entity would give it unprecedented control over broadband.

Comcast has responded that Netflix is seeking to “shift costs that it has always borne to all users of the Internet and not just to Netflix customers,” and that its interconnection deal with Netflix is no different from similar agreements that it has with many other companies.

More Biz

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett's Bail Set at $100,000, Must Surrender Passport

    A Chicago judge set a $100,000 bond for Jussie Smollett on Thursday, as the “Empire” actor made his first court appearance. Smollett faces one felony count of filing a false police report. Police allege that Smollett staged a Jan. 29 attack, telling police that he was accosted by two men who used racial and homophobic [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Accuses HBO of

    Michael Jackson Estate Sues HBO for Non-Disparagement Contract Breach

    The estate of Michael Jackson sued HBO on Thursday, accusing the cable channel of violating a non-disparagement clause by agreeing to run “Leaving Neverland,” a documentary accusing Jackson of sexual abuse. The suit seeks to compel HBO to litigate the matter in a public arbitration process, and claims that the estate could be awarded $100 [...]

  • Allison Kaye

    Scooter Braun Names Allison Kaye Partner at Ithaca Holdings (EXCLUSIVE)

    On the back of a history-making debut by Ariana Grande, who claims the top three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week (tying the Beatles), Scooter Braun has appointed his longtime deputy Allison Kaye to partner at Ithaca Holdings LLC, which houses SB Projects. She was previously president of music at the 12-year-old [...]

  • Tidal Launches $1 Million Program to

    Tidal Launches Unplugged, $1 Million Program to Support Emerging Musicians

    Tidal, the streaming platform headed by Jay-Z, today announced the launch of a million-dollar artist grant program intended to support emerging musicians. Called Tidal Unplugged and funded by a donation from venture capitalists and philanthropists Mark Lampert and Robert Nelsen, the program will kick off March 1 in Detroit, where Lampert’s grandfather started his musical career. [...]

  • Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten Lead

    Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten, Lead Initial Lineup for Renovated Webster Hall

    New York’s classic venue Webster Hall, which will reopen this spring after a months-long renovation, has announced the first run of shows after its relaunch: Patti Smith and Her Band, Broken Social Scene, MGMT, Empire of the Sun, Old Dominion, Sharon Van Etten, Built to Spill, Real Estate, Chromeo and Big Thief are among the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Charged With Filing False Police Report

    “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, the Chicago police said Wednesday. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. Smollett is due to appear in court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. [...]

  • Coast Guard Lieutenant Hit List

    Coast Guard Lieutenant Targeted CNN, MSNBC Anchors and Democrats for Attacks

    Anchors at CNN and MSNBC and prominent Democrats were targeted for attack by a Coast Guard lieutenant arrested Friday on a firearms charge, according to federal prosecutors in Maryland. In court documents revealed Tuesday, prosecutors describe the firearms and controlled substance charges Christopher Paul Hasson is facing as “the proverbial tip of the iceberg.” CNN’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content