Rutledge says Charter will grow video subscribers in 2015

Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) CEO Tom Rutledge said he expects the company to finish 2015 with positive growth in its video subscribers. Those comments are similar to ones recently made by Time Warner Cable chief executive Robert Marcus.

"We're confident we're going to grow video subscribers this year," Rutledge said at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia conference in New York. "We think it's because we have a better video product than our competitors."

Charter reported a net loss of 33,000 video subscribers in the second quarter, a slight uptick from the 29,000 it lost in the year-prior quarter and more than analysts expected.

Still, Rutledge believes that service improvements yielded by the completion of the all-digital conversion of Charter's cable systems has finally given his MSO an advantage over satellite and telco competitors.

"We have had the inertia of our history to overcome," the Charter chairman and CEO said. "Cable stayed analog way too long. But when you go digital, it frees up your broadband -- you end up with a faster broadband product and a better video product, and the overall value proposition exceeds what your competitors can do today … We now have an opportunity to make our video product better than satellite and grow at their expense. And a well-managed HFC network can do everything FiOS can do."

Rutledge's comments echo those made a week ago by TWC's Marcus, who also said he expects his cable company to yield annual video customer growth for the first time in nearly a decade. 

Meanwhile, Rutledge also took time to summarize what he sees as the upside of Charter's proposed buyout of TWC and Bright House Networks.

"It's an opportunity to have a bigger platform that can get costs out of the system so that we can invest more," he said. "It also means we can cover the marketplace better, use advertising more efficiently, and sell business services to customers with multiple sites more efficiently. Also, advertising sales is enhanced by having more DMAs [designated marking areas]."

Of those benefits, he drilled down a bit on the business services opportunity. "Enterprise penetration is only about 5 percent for the cable industry," he said. "That's a huge opportunity that is now more open to us because we have a bigger footprint. We can serve clients a lot easier."

For more:
- visit this Charter Communications investor relations site

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