Charter building a Comcast Flex-like streaming device

Charter's updated logo
(Charter Communications)

Charter said it’s building an IP video aggregation platform complete with new hardware, similar to what Comcast has already done with its Flex product for internet customers.

Charter CFO Chris Winfrey spoke today at a Morgan Stanley investor conference and said his company will be developing a new IP video platform. He promised more details to come about the product over time. He said there’s already some integration of SVOD and direct-to-consumer platforms into Charter’s Spectrum guide and that his company will continue to expand on that.

“So, we’ll move with the marketplace, is what I’m saying. We’ll make sure that we’re in a position to continue to have a competitive video product,” Winfrey said.

Charter already offers its Spectrum guide via apps across many third-party streaming devices. In September, CEO Tom Rutledge suggested those apps were enough and that Charter didn’t need to pursue building its own streaming box.

RELATED: Charter sees no need to offer its own video streaming hardware

“We don’t feel like we need to have an equipment strategy in the IP place necessarily. But if we somehow get locked out or everybody builds a walled garden around their hardware or their operating system, we think we can work through our own set-top box strategy and use our own integrated set-top boxes to put apps on them and satisfy our customers,” Rutledge said.

However, Winfrey’s comments today show that Charter has revised its thinking about having its own streaming video platform and device.

Charter has stood out among traditional MVPDs by adding video subscribers for the past two quarters. The cable operator added 53,000 residential and 14,000 small and medium business (SMB) video subscribers for 67,000 total additions in the third quarter. Winfrey said it’s unlikely that Charter can keep up that video subscriber growth but he emphasized that the point of video is having something to bundle with broadband.

“I still think we’re going to be a major player in the video space and I think with the video product, whether it gains or loses is irrelevant, what matters is that we have a competitive video product that really sustains the connectivity relationship growth rate we have overall,” Winfrey said.