Comcast’s Roberts: Pay-TV business merely in a ‘competitive patch’

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts used his pulpit at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference Tuesday to calm investors following a panic caused last week when the company revealed that it could report as many as 150,000 video subscriber losses for the third quarter. 

“We hit a competitive patch this quarter in our opinion that was compounded by these two storms,” Roberts said. “And that’s had an impact on our subscriber numbers a bit and even though, as we said, our overall customer relationships increased.” (Roberts’ comments were transcribed by Seeking Alpha.)

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It was at a similar conference last week, one conducted by Merrill Lynch, that Comcast’s residential products chief Matthew Strauss revealed the coming third-quarter hit. Comcast’s market cap subsequently lost about $16 billion in value. 

For his part, Roberts sought to emphasize the part of Strauss’s message that got largely overlooked—Comcast’s financials for the quarter will still be strong. 

“If you step back and … look at the last trailing 12 months and you took the biggest number we announced—we said 100,000 to 150,000 video subscribers … I think we’d be 50,000 subs down for the 12-month period, basically the same as where we started. Our customer relationships will go up. Our cash flows up. Our revenues up. We don’t really see any change to any of that,” Roberts said. 

The hurricanes and video competition will not impact broadband, Roberts said.

“We’re still adding broadband,” he added. “This was a difference of the question, specifically where it’s going to be positive in video. We’re right around for the full year where we were last year. So there’s no question of broadband. We have a growing business, it’s continued to grow.”