CNBC’s Juila Boorstin had the unique opportunity this morning to sit on the General Session stage and get direct, unfiltered feedback from five cable provider CEOs. Cablevision’s James Dolan, Cox’s Pat Esser, Liberty Global’s Michael Fries, Time Warner Cable’s Rob Marcus and Charter’s Tom Rutledge all took a seat and fielded questions on how television consumption is changing, the role of regulation, and the ever-evolving broadband marketplace.
Top of mind for both the audience and the panelists was FCC Chairman Wheeler’s comments delivered just moments before they took the stage. “Baffling” was the word used by Michael Fries to describe the recently enacted Title II regime. He noted how it seems as if regulators are delivering “presumptions of guilt and punishment for success” to the industry. The panelists and audience seemed to agree.
The discussion quickly shifted to a more positive industry look at how people’s consumption habits are changing. Boorstin asked about the future of smaller programming packages and the changing way customers are consuming video content. Fries informally polled the audience on whether they use TV Everywhere apps and about thirty percent raised their hands. “Last year it would have been ten percent.” All of the panelists took an opportunity to explain just how dedicated they are to delivering content the way customers want it. “We embrace OTT,” the panelists agreed. Rob Marcus added, “It’s a great application of broadband and we welcome it and try to facilitate great experiences for our customers.”
Touching on the copyright controversy of live streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope, Charter’s Tom Rutledge said content must be protected in order to retain its value. Rutledge noted that we’re in an age where we can all “keep content and move it around the world instantly.” He noted that if companies don’t secure their content and protect it, in the end it “won’t be worth much.”
On the changing behavior of viewers, Cox’s Pat Esser pointed out that when they look at consumer video habits, they’re seeing more content consumption on more platforms than ever before. “Whether its DVRs or TVE apps or VOD. As long as I’m connecting customers to the things they care about, I’m OK.”
What was most apparent during the discussion was the panel’s shared commitment to creating a great customer experience.
See below for a full video of the panel discussion: