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Marianne Paskowski



Turning the Triple Play

October 25, 2007 12:44 PM

Is cable’s triple play losing steam?

That’s a hard question to answer given the lackluster third-quarter results from the nation’s largest cable provider, Comcast. The MSO lost 65,000 basic customers during that quarter. It had lower-than-expected digital video growth but better-than-expected cable modem growth and slightly better-than-expected growth in phone service.

But I think the answer to my question is yes. Comcast Chief Operating Officer Steve Burke told analysts some of the company’s losses were due to attractive marketing campaigns from the telephone companies, which are offering their own version of a triple-play bundle for digital video, phone and high-speed Internet access.

Maybe the heady days of the triple play are indeed over for cable. Customers who bought all three services in a bundle initially enjoyed a price break for the first year, but paid the full fare after that deal expired for those products. The phone companies saw that weakness, and since they got into the game later with their triple-play offers, can price their products more attractively.

Burke told analysts that Comcast would tweak how it sells its services, aggressively offering two-product and one-product packages to spur growth. I think that’s a smart move, don’t you?

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Comments (4)

Andy S.:

Yes, I think it's a wise move. I'm a Comcast cable TV customer who has resisted buying the triple play for a couple of reasons. One, I have friends who had a terrible experience with the cable modem and wound up going with Verizon DSL, which has been much better (where I live DSL has not rolled out yet, and I've had enough trouble with my cable signal to be wary of trusting it for internet). Two, I just don't know enough about the cable phone service and how it works to trust it. While cable TV is a great thing and I love it, it's still more of a luxury, while internet and phone are necessities that I can't afford to mess with. On the basis of all this, I think Comcast is vulnerable to the phone companies as they roll out their own TV offerings.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Andy,

You're comments make me think about baseball a lot. Sometimes a bunch of doubles win the game. Maybe in the case of cable it's now become a double play, too, digital video and cable modem.

Disclosure here: I don't triple play anymore. I did it back in New York. Now here, I'm a Comcast subscriber but only for expanded basic. I have Verizon DSL for Internet and a fab Verizon long distance and local package. Verizon will never be an entity where I live because of the low population density in my neck of the woods on Cape Cod.

I never liked IP telephony, I have heard the horror stories too. Especially here.

Thanks for the post and getting the thread rolling.

Marianne

eric:

i too passed on the comcast triple-play here in CT, i am a directv sunscriber with comcast internet. ive never had a problem with comcast's high speed internet and have been a sub for over two years. the future for cable is not only technological, especially HD (which comcast has been slower than others rolling out) but content is still king. in the future, in many places, price will be driven down and content especially local and regional will be the future. the problem is the cost of content, and the fact that creativity is in short supply in the industry. i see cable and the telcos developing their own exclusive local/regional content in the future, its the thing that will differentiate them and build customer loyalty. when you all are selling the same product and similar technology and service, what sets you apart???. oh yeah its service and value - something they all come up a little short on!!!

Marianne Paskowski:

Eric,

Good point about cable's regional news channels. Comcast has one, but is still losing subscribers.

Cablevision actually has three, and it's get hit by competition from Verizon.

Thanks for the post,
Marianne

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