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Bipolar Cable Industry Loves<->Hates Netflix; Britt Says It’s About Giving Customers What They Want

Wall Street Journal: Top execs of some media behemoths are shifting their public stances toward Netflix Inc. of late. They’re now trying to persuade investors that the video streaming service will expand their business rather than destroy it. (4 minutes)

You are forgiven if you are confused about the love-hate relationship the cable industry has with online video streamers like Netflix — one that the Wall Street Journal likens to manic bipolar episodes.  Weeks after blaming Netflix for getting video programming too cheaply and threatening cable subscriptions, cable industry executives were hugs and kisses about online video at the recent Cable Show in Chicago.

“The reason why there’s interest in these Internet video providers that is that they’re deploying technology that’s making the experience better for consumers,” Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said in an interview with MarketWatch during the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s annual Cable Show last week.

“There’s nothing about [cable companies] that stops us from doing that. So I would say … we as an industry just need to pay attention and give consumers what they want. Then there’s no room for these other guys. I don’t mean to say that in a negative way, but it’s true.”

Britt

Of course, this is the same man that has earplugs firmly implanted to help resist another rejection of his Internet pricing schemes that Time Warner Cable customers loathed in 2009.  Britt’s desire to give “consumers what they want” just doesn’t play in this part of town while the cable company is installing software to measure and potentially meter broadband usage.

What is different in the online video spectrum is consumers have choices.  They can adopt Time Warner Cable’s glacially-slow rollout of its TV Everywhere concept, watch Hulu, use Netflix, or simply steal content providers don’t want them to watch.  For customers of Time Warner Cable facing competition from AT&T, there is potentially nowhere to run to avoid an Internet Overcharging scheme which could bring the online viewing party to a rapid conclusion when your viewing allowance is used up.

Britt says he is struggling with rights holders to provide more accessibility to online video streaming of popular shows.  He’s also thinking about how many restrictions to slap on subscribers.

MarketWatch talked with Britt and found him dealing with nagging questions about how many devices each user account should be authorized to use for viewing. “Should it be three, should it be 10? If I make [that number] too small, you’re not going to be happy as a customer,” Britt philosophized. “If I make it too big, you’re going to give the password to all of your friends, and they won’t have to buy a subscription to begin with.”

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  • Doug: So what are they (Charter Spectrum) supposed to do? Continue repairing the sabotage? Pay for "protection?" I am certain that those customers whose ...
  • tony russo: Promo with TWC ending this week. Had Starter TV (25 channels) plus Turbo internet for $65 total. Called to see what is available and the lowest tv p...
  • FredH: ....talk about flimsy (or no) evidence.....good luck Charter, wasting our cable fees on a lawsuit they stand no chance of winning....
  • Will: I have to agree with ATT here... Can't blame cord cutters when it's just that ATT's video service is awful and customers are fleeing at the first oppo...
  • kaniki: I really do not see much changing on the Tmobile end of things.. Sprint does not have much coverage outside of Tmobiles right now, so, Tmobile would g...
  • kaniki: I would have to disagree with the "cable company" part.. I would like to see someone, more like google, get them, then a cable company.. Most cable co...
  • MAD DOG: Company really losing customers. What a shame I like it better when the Dolan was running the show. It was like a family company....
  • LG: This is what happens when you charge $150-$300 for TV. People have better things to spend their money on. TV in general is losing viewers after deca...
  • Josh: Good for them! Don't know that $500/day is remotely reasonable (how about $500,000/day?) but regardless good for them....
  • BobInIllinois: DirecTV is a great premium TV service. Downside is that consumers are looking to cut expenses, and they think that streaming can do that. Most consu...
  • EJ: If you don't pay they will more then likely turn it into collections and it will affect your credit. The better move is to pay them again, send a canc...
  • EJ: I think someone put a decimal point in the wrong spot lol?!...

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