Comcast’s Strauss: ‘We’re more like Apple or Google than a cable company’

"We see ourselves as a technology and communication-entertainment company" rather than a cable provider, Strauss said. Image: Comcast

In perhaps the most precise articulation to date, Comcast’s top video products executive spelled out how the MSO now sees itself as more of a deep-thinking Silicon Valley tech company, as opposed to stodgy, old cable operator. 

"We don't see ourselves as a cable company," Strauss told the Chicago Tribune in a wide-ranging interview, largely bereft of news but full of honed iterations of corporate philosophy. "We see ourselves as a technology and communication-entertainment company, much more in the consideration set of Apple and Google than more of the traditional cable and satellite providers."

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Of course, with its own VC firm and labs situated in places like Austin, Texas, and the valley itself, Comcast has attempted to make this distinction before. 

Likewise, Strauss reiterated Comcast’s vision on just what “TV” is in the age of the multiscreen app.

“To me, a television is a piece of glass,” said the 45-year-old executive, who formerly worked at Disney/ABC and Rainbow Media, before joining Comcast in 2004. 

“Any piece of glass that can render video securely is a TV,” Strauss added. “When you look at it through that lens, you start to see the world differently around the all the different types of applications and places that you can now make video available. But television is still where most people consume the majority of their video.

Strauss also detailed the virtual skinny bundle Comcast will launch later this year, Xfinity Instant TV.

“You don't even need a set-top box,” he said. “If you take our high-speed data, you'll be able to download the Xfinity Stream app starting at about $15 (per month) and access broadcast (channels) and get a cloud DVR and access to a premium channel. Then if you want to add on top of that, skinny packages like a sports and news pack or kids and family pack or a TV and entertainment pack, you'll have the ability to do that.”

And of course, Strauss took time to make sure the Tribune didn’t confuse Xfinity Instant TV with over-the-top distribution.

“‘Over-the-top' typically means you're delivering video on a national basis,” he said. “We are not focused on delivering a national over-the-top service. We're very focused on delivering products and services within the markets that we serve today, like Chicago.”