Charter’s Rutledge: DirecTV not selling below price at $35 because it’s not a full bundle

Tom Rutledge
Charter CEO Tom Rutledge. Image: Charter

Charter Communications Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge dismissed the notion that AT&T is undercutting the cable market by selling its upcoming virtual pay-TV service DirecTV Now at a loss-leader price of $35 a month. 

“The description of the product is consistent with the price. I don’t think they’re below price, but I also don’t think they’re [offering] a full bundle,” Rutledge told investment analysts during today’s third quarter earnings call with investors. 

RELATED: AT&T readies DirecTV Now launch without CBS or Fox

Asked by an analyst what networks he thinks are missing, Rutledge responded, “I don’t think all the broadcast signals are there.”

As FierceCable reported Monday, AT&T has confirmed deals with every major programming conglomerate for DirecTV Now, except 21st Century Fox and CBS Corp., respective parents of the FOX and CBS broadcast networks. 

AT&T has already committed to a $35 a month price for its virtual service, which will launch late this month with more than 100 channels. 

RELATED: Charter loses 47K video subs in Q3 as TWC promo customers flee

Rutledge, meanwhile, has traditionally been dismissive regarding the skinny bundle trend. And he didn’t change his tune – which is a bit counter-intuitive with the rest of the pay-TV industry – this morning. He told analysts that the rate of customers requesting full video packages is actually increasing. 

“The mix is actually going heavier,” he said. “But to the extent that [programmers] will allow us to sell smaller packages, we’d be happy to take advantage of that.”