Charter’s Rutledge: ‘We will have more video customers three years from now than we do today’

Tom Rutledge
Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge

As investors fret about the impacts of spiking competition from OTT services and recent hurricane disasters on large pay-TV operators, Charter Communications Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge has made a bold prediction.

“I think we will have more video customers three years from now than we do today,” Rutledge told financial types Tuesday at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in San Francisco. (A transcript of the event was provided by Seeking Alpha.)

“Clearly, the market has shifted to some extent,” Rutledge said. “The whole multi-channel video market is shrinking at a slow rate, which is mostly price driven in my opinion. And you have new competitors; so far they had been relatively insignificant in terms of their impact on the marketplace.”

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Rutledge’s confidence stems from Charter’s Spectrum Guide user interface, which he believes entices not-so-price-conscious consumers not to cut the cord. 

“The two-way video on demand platform and how state-of-the-art user interface can affect the perception of value in all of the content that we have is better now than it was previously,” he said. 

“So, our assets actually work better in a two-way on demand world than they did in a linear world from a value perception perspective relative to competitors. And I think we have a big advantage against satellite going forward that is even more pronounced now than it was a few years ago,” Rutledge added.

For its part, Comcast chose to get ahead of investor pain, revealing last week that the storm disruption—on top of OTT competition—could set back Comcast as many as 150,000 pay-TV subscribers in Q2. 

Rutledge said the combined impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma currently have around 1.3 million Charter customers blacked out. But Rutledge stopped short of predicting how many customers won’t come back. 

“My guess it will be 200,000 or 300,000 customers that will have some form of credit for some period of time,” he said.