Comcast at Bank of America Conference Notes

Stephen Burke – Chief Executive Officer, NBCUniversal & Senior Executive Vice President, Comcast Corp.

We can get the whole company behind major events

“There is a huge benefit in my opinion dealing part of the same company that has Comcast Cable and that benefit is only realized if you work at it and if you have the right kind of relationships. And Neil Smit and I talk all the time and when we have a major event like watching a new movie or television show or theme parks, we use something that we call Symphony which is basically getting the entire company together to get behind the movie like Pets or new attraction like Harry Potter and we have all of the NBCUniversal channels, plus all of Comcast Cable get behind that and the results are tremendous.”

Hardest thing to do in a digital world is break through the clutter

“The hardest thing to do in a fragmented world where the – where people have almost unlimited options to view is to break through the clutter and have a cultural event that takes the country by storm the way a big movie or television show does. And there’s no doubt in my mind that getting everybody together and creating the right kind of environment and including Comcast Cable and their reach is a real benefit.”

Olympics was a financial success

“The ratings were down, there were whole bunch of different reasons why the ratings were down, some of it was because we put programming at the same time on NBC and Prime Time and on USA, NBC Sports Net, Bravo and other channels, we felt that was important to do because there were times when Michael Phelps would be swimming and the US women’s soccer team would be playing in those were both things that people wanted to see. So by our calculation we think you really have to look at total audience delivery, which would include our cable channels streaming and other digital consumption and by that metric we were down single digits versus a very, very successful Olympics, London was the high water point.”

17 days of olympics is essential for advertisers

“So if you’re an advertiser who has a big brand or who wants to change consumer perception those 17 days of the Olympics are almost invaluable, you almost can’t put a price tag on them. And advertisers love the experience in Rio and all the advertisers we talked to can’t wait to come back in Korea and in Japan for the next two Olympics.”

Bundle is the best consumer value proposition

“Well, and this is my personal view, although I did see a research report that kind of was in the same direction, is that OTT sounds like a better business than in reality it is. I mean, that fact is if you want a decent sized bouquet or bundle of cable channels your programming costs are going to be $40, $50, $60, and if your programming cost are $40, $50, $60 you’re going to have a consumer proposition that’s going to be $40, $50, $60 or more. And if you are a consumer that has cable and you get 200 channels, I’m not sure why huge numbers of people are going to run out and get excited about paying $45 for 25 channels, just doesn’t – from a consumer point of view it doesn’t seem to make sense to me.”

People want a combination of reach of television with targetability of digital

“Well, I think what’s happening is advertisers are demanding the reach and scale of television and the target ability of digital and the nirvana for advertisers and for our company is if you could ever have the targetability of digital with television. And we’re working on that, we have Linda Yaccarino has a number of products that allow you to analyze data and overlay target ability because we have all these channels and in some instances using the targetability of Comcast cable to have something that’s truly differentiated and interesting for advertisers. And ultimately I think people want to see the data and targetability of digital fully represented inside television. ”

Liberty Global (LBTYA) Q2 2016 Earnings Call

Liberty Global (LBTYA) CEO Mike Fries said they added a decent amount of subscribers during the quarter

“We added nearly 280,000 new RGUs in the three-month period that’s double what we did last year in the second quarter and up 80% from just the first few months of the year. And it brings year-to-date net adds to 430,000 with material improvement across all our products and essentially all our markets too.”

Liberty Global (LBTYA) CEO Mike Fries on what the implications of Brexit means to their business

“Now, I just want to address Brexit quickly. We have been asked many times what it means to us. And while we didn’t support Brexit on a corporate level or do we respect the voters’ decision. And while we favor stability and regulatory certainty, we’re not actually that worried at all about the future here. We’ve seen no slowdown in our sales levels in UK. Consumers are the ones that matter. Actually we’re up year-over-year. Across all of our markets, consumers are looking for fast, reliable, and seamless connectivity, and a wide range of high quality content, UK is no different. Consumers want world-class communications of content and we’re delivering that to them. And then one last point, there is very little risk of currency fluctuations in the UK. Of course our borrowings are all hedged and substantially all of our OpEx and CapEx is in sterling, we’re feeling very positive about.”

Bought back $300MM worth of their company’s stock in the few days after Brexit

“And since closing the Cable & Wireless deal in May, we reignited our share repurchase program as we told you we would. In just the last week of June, we bought back $300 million of the stock, bringing total buybacks in the second quarter to $700 million. And that for those who are keeping the math would leave $3 billion on our buyback authorization through the end of 2017.”

The UK is their strongest performing region

“Virgin Media in UK continues to be our engine of growth, not just today but certainly over the next two years. Our product enhancements, strong marketing campaigns, great bundles are driving higher sales and lower churn. In fact Virgin had a record customer additions, so actually new homes connected of 31,000 in the UK and 56,000 RGU adds. That’s the best second quarter since 2008.”

Liberty Global (LBTYA) CEO Mike Fries on why they’ve stepped up their investments in producing content 

“On the content question, I think we’ve been pretty clear about that. We’re starting to see some things pay off. We will be announcing some production activity with All3Media across our foot print. So, we have decided to produce and cooperate with them on four scripted series that will find the way into our networks exclusively, at least the outset. We are doing some great work between All3Media and our Irish broadcast networks. The Lionsgate relationship’s off to a great start. I think there is going to be some interesting cooperation there. Just renewed our Discovery deal which we think is going to be very positive from the point of view of sports and Olympics and all the rights that we need to get our customers happy. So, I don’t think the content investment strategy has changed materially. We’re looking at smart opportunistic investments, not investments that significantly change the weighting of our balance sheet or cash flows, but where we can get inside and make some important strategic moves with that partner. And thus far that’s paying off. So, I think you should expect more of that.”

Liberty Global (LBTYA) CEO Mike Fries Interview

Liberty Global (LBTYA) CEO Mike Fries said the recent Brexit vote won’t impair its proposed joint venture with Vodafone or reduce its business appetite in the European region

“Brexit has no immediate impact on our business and it has not reduced our appetite or interest in Europe. The UK is a relatively large part of our business and in the end British consumers will still want the same products and services.”

Still looking for acquisition candidates

“We are committed to mobility and it will grow as part of our business. We’re going to try to grow in mobile in Poland, too.  It’s a fragmented market and acquisitions are an option here.”




Liberty Global (LBTYA) CEO Mike Fries Interview

Liberty Global (LBTYA) CEO Mike Fries on the characteristics he learned growing up in Los Angeles 

“”For me, growing up with eight kids was a huge part of my tabula rasa.  When you grow up in a large family, you’re like a tribe. So what do you learn? You learn loyalty, compromise. You learn to advocate for yourself. Independence. Confidence. I would say all those things have impacted my management style. I think people would say I’m tough, but I’m the first one to say, ‘Let’s take a tequila shot and have a blast.’ ”

On the importance of bringing everyone together

“”I’m always making sure it’s a special event and that people understand the importance of getting together.  My point is that it’s important to me that people feel connected to something more than just their desk and computer. That they understand the purpose and have a sense of their role and how they contribute to things.”



Source: The Denver Post

May 22, 2016

John Malone of the various Liberty Companies Interview


John Malone on the state of competition within the TV industry

“The nightmare scenario for any businessman is that you have a rich, dumb competitor”

John Malone on the some of the best advice he’s ever received

“Always analyze the downside and structure everything so that you live to fight another day.”

John Malone on his relentless focus to minimize tax corporate tax payments to the government

“The government is your partner. They just don’t get to go to all your meetings. In the end, you can invest the money better than they can.”

John Malone on his greatest disappointment in life

“I let business take too large a part of my life for a period in my life and probably neglected the kids more than I should have.”

John Malone on the need for greater scale in the traditional media industry

“We no longer can think of scale being sufficient if it’s just the U.S. When Mark Zuckerberg talks about a billion simultaneous daily users — those are big numbers.”

John Malone on the growth of original series production

“It’s like a children’s soccer match. Everybody in the industry is chasing the soccer ball instead of holding their position.”

John Malone on the fate of the cable bundle

“I don’t think the bundle will break down by itself. I think other bundles will build up. The big bundle only breaks down if sports breaks down. That’s really the muscle. Sports is the glue that holds the bundle together. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

Liberty Global (LBTYA) Q1 2016 Earnings

Liberty Global (LBTYA) CEO Mike Fries said the company exceeded even its own expectations

“I think first and most importantly, we had a strong quarter on subscriber growth. We doubled our net-adds versus last year. We exceeded our own internal expectations pretty considerably. We saw improvements across all three products: video, broadband, and telephony with really strong results in the UK. I’ll dig into this in a bit in just a moment.”

And they were able to successfully increase prices without any large impact on customer churn 

“We were particularly pleased with this kind of volume growth after taking price increases across two thirds of our customer base in the first quarter. By the way if you add Ziggo, those customer increases were closer to 80%, which just got their price increases announced. We took a lot of lessons that we learned from last year and ensure that this year we reduce the impact of churn and optimize the benefits to sales. And we think we hit the mark here. Going forward as we manage the price-value relationship in this timeframe Q4, Q1 we think this sort of RGU growth in the first quarter is the new normal for us.”

Expects costs to remain relatively flat while revenue grows in the next few years

“Let me spend a minute on the efficiency side, though. I think we’ve been clear that while direct costs like content and bandwidth will always grow along with revenue, the bulk of our indirect expenses, which total approximately $5.5 billion a year, are expected to stay broadly flat over the next three years. Let me spend a minute on the efficiency side, though. I think we’ve been clear that while direct costs like content and bandwidth will always grow along with revenue, the bulk of our indirect expenses, which total approximately $5.5 billion a year, are expected to stay broadly flat over the next three years.  We’re starting to digitize much of what we do self-help or online tools, we’re launching a company-wide service apps and implementing digital first philosophies of cross customer engagement centers. Obviously the goal is quicker response times, higher satisfaction levels but also to be more efficient.”

Liberty Global (LBTYA) CEO Mike Fries highlighted the companies move into the mobile space

“We now serve over 7 million mobile customers in Europe, representing over 10% of our revenue. And if you add in the pending Cable & Wireless acquisition and our JV in Holland, our mobile base moves closer to 15 million. And I get it, we’re not AT&T but we are starting to build a sizable and profitable mobile business that complement our fixed platforms, and the benefits are material in terms of churn reduction and the competitiveness of our bundles.”

Spoke about the rationale for doing price increases in different markets

“On the rate increases, if you go around Europe, those increases are ranging from 2.5% to 5%, in the UK is over 5%, in Ireland was over 5%, in Switzerland more like 3.5%, Austria more like 3.5%, in Germany in the mid 2s, Belgium, Chile, Holland in the mid 2s. So it’s really a range and it has a lot of issues — a lot of factors that determine that, what’s the competition doing, what did we do last year? What improvements to the product have we made, that’s the key driver. We’ve increasing speed so.”