Smit explains why Comcast won't chase Hulu outside its footprint

Three days after Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts surprised the pay-TV industry at INTX by revealing that the MSO has no plans to deploy streaming video services outside its footprint, cable division chief Neil Smit provided more color on the company's strategic thought process.

"We haven't seen a [streaming] model yet that's more profitable than packaging video in our own footprint with things like HSD and home security," Smit said this morning, while being interviewed by analyst Craig Moffett at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York City.

"There are going to be different ways of delivering content, and we have to be prepared for that," Smit added, when asked to respond to Hulu's development of a live-streamed pay-TV service. "But we get the best return from the 55 million homes we pass. We're only 42.5 percent penetrated in that footprint, so we still see a lot of growth."

With Moffett throwing a kitchen sink of questions at Smit, the cable chief also responded when asked why Comcast hasn't renewed its carriage deal for Fox-owned Yankees channel the Yes Network in the Northeast. 

"We have a big data area where we look at set-top box viewing," he said. "What we found is that viewing, relative to the price we are paying, doesn't make sense for us."

Is the pendulum in negotiations with programmers finally swinging the way of pay-TV operators, Smit was asked.

"What's happening is that we're going in with much more data and many more facts," Smit said. "We're much better informed about the value of the content, and that's making a big difference."

Smit continued to reiterate Comcast's interest in the wireless business: "There's no doubt that there is a trend towards mobile," he said, noting that Comcast is in "test and learn mode right now" with services that leverage its 14 million Wi-Fi hot spots, as well as its MVNO relationship with Verizon. 

He refused, however, to reveal a timeline as to when Comcast might announce test markets for new wireless offerings. 

Meanwhile, Smit continued to tout Comcast's position as a potential player in 5G. "We're really well positioned," he said. "You're going to need space, you're going to need power, and you're going to need backhaul."

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