Comcast may be losing cable customers to the Internet, but it insists that it isn’t an active participant in the trend. As the company acknowledged that it had lost 129,000 video customers in its most recent quarter, Chief Executive Officer Neil Smit tried to dump cold water on a few reported developments that have cord-cutters licking their chops.
In a call with investors, Smit downplayed the significance of the company’s new Internet Plus plan. The plan, disclosed last week, allows customers to get access to HBO and the corresponding Internet product, HBO Go, so long as they pay for about 20 channels and access to the Internet, instead of making them pay for dozens of channels they’ll never watch just to get access to Game of Thrones. Tech blogs reported on the service as though it were a step forward for those looking to get rid of cable, but Smit doesn’t quite see it that way. “It does require video, so it’s not HBO without a video offering,” he told investors. “We’ve done these kinds of offers before.”
And don’t even ask about the idea that Comcast might start incorporating a Netflix app into its cable boxes, says Smit:
On the Netflix side, really there’s nothing to report. It has been frankly incredible to me the amount of press coverage this has received. Our customers can receive Netflix in a number of ways, so it’s not really a high priority for us. We’re open to putting apps on our X1 platform. We have, for example, Facebook and Pandora there now. But at this point, we don’t really have anything to report on the Netflix front.
Comcast clearly knows that the Internet is eating away at its cable business. But it doesn’t seem to like suggestions that it’s inviting that fox into its hen house.