You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Talks Failed Time Warner Cable Merger, Periscope Piracy Concerns

CHICAGO — Comcast CEO Brian Roberts has said “we’re moving on” following the collapse of its merger with Time Warner Cable, but at the Internet and Television Expo on Tuesday, he got in one more reference to the scuttled transaction.

Introducing Comcast’s Xfinity new voice remote search, he said, “Show me Comcast Time Warner Cable merger,” and the screen went to an exploding package from “Fast and the Furious 7.”

By and large, Roberts, appearing on stage to showcase Comcast’s new offerings and to participate in a Q&A session with Peter Chernin, emphasized the company’s forays into new technology and a strong earnings release on Monday.

With the cable industry facing accelerated pressure to unbundle channel offerings given the competition from over-the-top video services, Roberts instead said that “video for the Internet is a great thing for our business.”

“I don’t love the phrase ‘over the top,'” Roberts said. “I think it is a ‘combined experience’ world.”

He pointed to the Internet success of videos from “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” with a huge audience beyond those who watch NBC.

Chernin said that reports of the collapse of the cable bundle are “overstated,” but said that “I think what you are going to see is the bundle rationalized in certain ways.”

“What it ultimately will do is force the bundle to justify itself,” Chernin said. “That is not the worst thing in the world.”

Roberts suggested that the challenge for cable providers is to show how bundling is a great deal. “We need to tell that story,” he said. “We need to be responsive to the market. I think that is a work in progress.”

On the minds of many here is the potential for technology to disrupt business models, an example of which is the ability for Periscope users to stream high-cost sporting events to followers. Chernin, who is a member of Twitter’s board of directors, said, “There was certainly no intention on the part of the Periscope guys to serve as a piracy device.”

Roberts noted that the pay-per-view Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was “off the charts” in terms of sales, and noted that piracy still represents a small sliver of how Comcast content is viewed.

Roberts also demonstrated Comcast’s voice control remote — with 3 million commands possible. For instance, when he said the line “life is a box of chocolates” from “Forrest Gump,” it called up the scene from the movie.

He also showed an upgrade to its app to better respond to customer service, with subscribers able to rate their experience after a technician visits, as well as sleeker-looking high-speed broadband modems. Comcast also is testing a “Studio Xfinity” store in Chicago, which Roberts said is a “new concept experience” to show “the incredible breadth” of Comcast products.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

  • Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton

    Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

    Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits. Nexstar, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content