Comcast dismisses cord-cutting threat; says it's relaunching Xfinity... again

Comcast's on-again, off-again affair with TV Everywhere appears to be back on. And, those rumored cord-cutters? Just a myth, Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis yesterday said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference.

The company said it was relaunching its TV Everywhere play, Xfinity Online... again.

"TV Everywhere, which we are calling Xfinity online TV, will be relaunched next month," he said. "Our goal is to provide our customers with the content that they want anytime, anywhere. And that includes as we launch different services with Xfinity and what we call Project Cavalry All-Digital--that's all somewhat connected."

The service rolled out in December 2009 and received a pretty lukewarm reception from reviewers who said a lack of content was holding it back. Shortly after launch, at the Cable Show, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said Xfinity's access portal was being made over to make logging in easier.

On Wednesday, Angelakis said the relaunch would address the content issue.

"The goal really is to provide our customers with the content that they want, where they want it and, frankly, provide them with as much as they want so they don't feel they need an alternative," he said. " We think that we have a great value proposition on the video side. It will evolve. It will mature in terms of how we innovate that product, whether it's online, whether it's on linear or whether it's VOD or ultimately possibly wireless."

And, while that sounds like an acknowledgement that cord-cutting, or the threat of losing customers to over-the-top delivery of content is at least playing in the back of the company's mind, Angelakis said that's a non-issue.

"When people say there's cord cutting, we really just don't see it," he said. "And when we think about cord cutting or the flavor of the day, we look at that as primarily competition to our VOD business, not to our core business."

Not everyone agrees with that assessment.

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg sees the writing on the wall: "Young people are pretty smart. They're not going to pay for something they don't need to," he said at Communacopia today, sending a strong message that Verizon believes that the cord-cutting trend being reported is more fact than fantasy. "Over the top is going to be a pretty big issue for cable."

Perhaps, because he's a telco guy and not a cable guy, he's had a better look at how changing technology can radically change your business, as in the way Verizon, AT&T and other telcos have seen their businesses lose customers as consumers dropped landline telephones to go wireless.

Credit Suisse recently downgraded its outlook for a number of media companies, primarily because it saw pay-TV share eroding as more younger consumers turned to over-the-top delivery options like Netflix. In fact, it found that 37 percent of Netflix users between the ages of 25 and 34 use Netflix streaming services instead of pay TV, and another 30 percent of subscribers between 18 and 24 also have cut the cord.

TV Everywhere also had a role in last year's Communacopia.  

Time Warner CEO and Chairman Jeff Bewkes took time to scold networks who were unwilling to entertain TV Everywhere initiatives because they wanted more money for shows watched online saying "[They're] not the ones who are going to the effort and expense of making this possible. The ones that are making this possible are the distributors--the telcos, the satellite companies, the cable companies."

For more:
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Related articles:
Verizon's Seidenberg sees cord cutting as threat to cable
Comcast launches nationwide on-demand Web TV
Over-the-top online video's Siren song for cable and IPTV
Early reviews mixed for Comcast TV Everywhere play
FCC wants info from Comcast on TV Everywhere

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