Count Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) CEO Rob Marcus as being among the top pay-TV executives not sold on the "skinny bundle" strategy.
Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference in New York, he said the percentage of new TWC video customers taking the preferred bundle of more than 200 channels is actually increasing.
"The headlines over the last several months have been way ahead of the facts," Marcus said. "We're not seeing this mass migration to skinny bundles. In fact, in the second quarter, roughly 82 percent of our video connects took the preferred bundle…which is the fattest of the fat bundle. It's still a great value. We can't lose track of that."
Taking the opportunity to further tout TWC's improving subscriber metrics, Marcus said it is very possible that his MSO could actually finish 2015 with more video subscribers than when it started. Coming off a second quarter in which it lost only 45,000 pay-TV subs -- its best performance since 2008 -- Marcus said his company's third-quarter subscriber picture is "substantially better than it was a year ago."
In the Q&A portion of his talk, he dismissed the notion that TWC will move away from video and its declining margins, noting that its the smaller operators with less leverage in program rights negotiations -- "Suddenlink, Cable One, the NCTC members" -- who need to execute on that strategy.
"They don't really make a lot of profit on video, and they've come to a reasonable conclusion," Marcus said.
Speaking about TWC's advanced video platform, TWC Maxx, he said the MSO is about to begin deployments in Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas and Hawaii, and will have 50 percent of its footprint covered with Maxx by the end of 2015.
Meanwhile, addressing regulatory issues, Marcus re-iterated cable industry fears that the wireless industry's LTE-U push could present radio interference problems for cable's Wi-Fi plans.
"Anything that impairs customers when they're trying to connect to Wi-Fi is a threat to our Wi-Fi model," he said.
Marcus also lauded the FCC's decision to review laws dating back to 1992 that govern broadcast retransmission negotiations.
"We've been in favor of revisiting these 20-year-old rules for a long time," he said. "They were made when MVPD's had all the leverage, but we all know the world is changing."
- check out the Time Warner Cable webcast (reg. req.)
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