Cable can compete just fine, thank you.
The Cable Show is first and foremost a trade forum. But it has also become a theatrical event in which the cable industry must literally put on a show to answer the question the world at large is (and forever will be) asking:
Will cable continue to be relevant?
Inside the industry, there is little doubt. Outside?
People see cable bleeding basic subscribers, understand that fiber to the home is the ne plus ultra of broadband (and know that somebody else has it), and are getting the impression that innovation is coming from elsewhere – like Netflix, Apple, Google, and even Barnes & Noble (fer crying out loud!).
So the part of the show aimed at outsiders was choreographed well. Comcast took the lead role, as befits the biggest star by far in the cable firmament. Comcast’s Thin Man is still only the third-most famous Brian Roberts*, but it’s getting to where his stage appearances are as eagerly anticipated as those of that guy in the jeans and black turtleneck.
Roberts demonstrated Comcast’s Xfinity services and what can be done on Comcast’s HFC network. He showed that:
• TV Everywhere is now available; it works, and you can get almost anything you want through a – finally – really easy-to-use user interface.
• TV Everywhere is moving to the cloud because there are some interesting things that can be accomplished by doing so.
• The cable network is capable today of data rates in excess of 1 Gbps. The implications being that:
• With TV Everywhere, cable has a conduit for so much personalized content from so many different sources, there’s less reason to go to some competitive OTT outlet.
• By getting to the cloud already, cable is proving its ability to innovate rapidly.
• An HFC network can match what can be done with an FTTH network. In short, yes, cable can compete just fine, thank you. (See “The 2011 Cable Show”.)
* He’s behind the Orioles’ All-Star second baseman and Sally Bowles’ companion in “Cabaret.”
And if that kid from Texas keeps winning big in poker, the CEO is heading for fourth.