Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) CEO Brian Roberts doesn't view his company as a 50-year-old cable stalwart, but instead likes to think of the firm as a burgeoning software startup that markets its innovations, such as its X-class channel guides that connect subscribers directly to Comcast's cloud, to other cable TV operators. In a wide-ranging interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer on the eve of the company's 50th anniversary, Roberts said the company, which is valued at more than $100 billion, must think like a startup in order to fend off growing competition. Indeed, Roberts' assertion that the company is no longer cable-focused is true. The number of Comcast Internet subscribers has increased 64 percent over the last six years to 20.3 million in 2013 from 12.4 million in early 2007. By comparison, the number of Comcast TV customers dropped 16 percent over the same period, to 21.6 million from 25 million.
While industry insiders agree that Comcast does have potential to take the X-class channel guide offering to other cable providers, critics say the company still needs to get a handle on its programming costs, which are driving cable TV rates higher than inflation and causing customers to considering cutting the cord. "The overriding challenge for the TV ecosystem is the out-of-control programming costs, and Comcast is in an awkward position in that its businesses are on both sides of that debate," said Craig Moffett of Moffett Research. Article