Comcast is picking up momentum with Flex, its video platform product for broadband-only subscribers, and Charter has taken notice.
During a third-quarter earnings call Friday, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said that his company has discussed Flex with Comcast, and called it an interesting idea that has advantages. He said Charter is considering it, but wouldn’t elaborate much beyond that.
“We have a significant number of app-based relationships that we’ve developed on multiple devices. That strategy is working for us but putting inexpensive devices out with our service makes some sense to us,” Rutledge said.
Rutledge’s comments today echo comments he made back in April when he said that Charter has considered licensing Comcast’s X1 video platform, which is something that other providers including Cox have already done.
Charter’s consideration of a product like Flex comes as video subscribers continue to slowly decline for the cable provider. The company lost another 75,000 video subscribers in the third quarter, taking its total down to 15.7 residential video customers.
Charter’s video sales are still overwhelmingly tied to broadband. The company said that more than 90% of the time when it sells video it’s packaged with broadband. Charter has seen a higher mix of subscribers taking up its lower-cost Choice and Stream video packages, but Rutledge said that Charter’s ability to sell those cheaper video products is constrained by the operator’s relationships with content providers.
“It’s really a limited solution for us in terms of video and the bulk of our customer relationships long-term in video will continue to be big package, expensive bundles of content because that’s the way it’s sold to us,” Rutledge said.
Comcast recently made Flex free for its broadband-only subscribers – after initially charging $5/month – and confirmed that it will package its upcoming streaming service, Peacock, for free with the platform. Flex combines a streaming box, voice remote and a platform that combines ad-supported video and third-party streaming apps along with connected home and Wi-Fi controls.