Comcast’s Watson: No margins in taking video outside footprint

Comcast's Watson Image: Comcast
Watson stuck closely to previously stated company talking points when asked about such issues such as Comcast’s new Wi-Fi optimization service.

Articulating Comcast’s oft-repeated insistence that it won’t venture outside its footprint to compete with over-the-top operators in the video business, new Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson said such a venture wouldn’t be profitable. 

“Every time we look at a business model outside our footprint, it just doesn’t make sense,” Watson said, speaking at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit. “We have some programming rights, but they’re not complete ... If you want to go out and get all of the rights connected to it, it is very little to no margin."

“We’re not questioning others and their approach,” he added. We’ll compete when they come into our footprint aggressively with X1 or broadband. When we look at taking that similar approach and that same model, we haven’t seen one that works.”

It was the first investor event handled by Watson since he was named to take over Comcast’s top cable division position in March from Neil Smit, the former Navy SEAL who stepped back from the role for health reasons.

RELATED: Comcast Cable ups Watson to CEO, moves Smit to new role of vice chairman

As Watson answered questions from interviewer Craig Moffett, a listener could easily be confused into believing the speaker was none other than Comcast CEO Brian Roberts—that’s how well Watson is schooled at sticking to company messaging and talking points. 

Watson stuck closely to previously stated company talking points when asked about such issues such as Comcast’s new Wi-Fi optimization service, its launch of its new mobile service and its just-announced wireless partnership with Charter.

“It just made sense to work together,” he said of the Charter partnership.

The veteran Comcast executive seemed most enthused about the forward-looking potential to make Comcast’s service’s more digital and user-friendly.

“We took out literally 22 million customer phone calls by doing the right thing,” he said. “This is one of those rare moments where you can take out transactions … And we’re only in the early innings.”

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