Time Warner Cable won our 2011 Award for MSO of the Year in this summer’s Top Ops issue of CableFAX The Magazine.
Whether it’s snatching up the rights to Lakers games, leading the charge for retransmission consent reform or unveiling a controversial iPad TV viewing app, Time Warner Cable has led the pack over the past year. Its accomplishments span the operational and financial spectrum, with TWC generating more than 20% growth in both commercial services and media sales in 2010. Primary service units—the total of video, high-speed data and digital phone subscribers—grew to 26.7 million. Revenues for ’10 increased 5.6% over ’09 to $18.9 billion, while operating income rose 11.2% to $3.7 billion, and free cash flow rose 16+%. At the same time, TWC’s share price was up 60% in 2010.
And then there are all the new offerings that TWC keeps rolling out—all part of a mission that chmn/CEO Glenn Britt describes as making customers’ lives easier. Yes, the much-talked about iPad app goes into that category, but so does TWC’s “TV Essentials” video package, which targets budget-conscious consumers. The MSO also has made online access to ESPN programming available to authenticated video customers, one of its first TV Everywhere offerings, with more to come.
“We’re in conversations with lots of people,” Britt says, pointing out the complexities of TVE. For example, if there are 4 people in a household, how many devices should be authenticated from that home at one point and time. “There are as many answers to that as there are players to this game,” he says. “It seems from our industry’s behavior that people don’t want to work together and do something new unless every single aspect of the issue is settled, whether it’s important or trivial, and that takes a long time.”
Another complex issue TWC is tackling is sports rights, throwing out major coin for a 20-year, exclusive agreement with the L.A. Lakers for all of their pre-season, regular season and post-season games, starting with the 2012-2013 season. With TWC hiring the well connected David Rone for the newly created post of TWC Sports pres, most believe its upcoming 2 Lakers RSNs—one in English and another in Spanish—are just the beginning. “Sports rights are lumpy,” Britt says, with a laugh. “They come up when they come up. And if they’re available, we’ll look at them.”
Up ahead, while there is still some legal wrangling over its iPad app, Time Warner Cable will continue to migrate to delivering its closed circuit, video business via IP. But through it all, TWC will remain focused on its goal of making life easier for consumers.
“We have made a tremendous amount of progress in improving the customer experience,” says TWC president/COO Rob Marcus. “For example, our customer segmentation strategy is designed to match our customers with the products and packages that best meet their needs, like ‘Signature Home’ for our customers who want the best of everything, or ‘TV Essentials,’ which is designed for customers who want to save some money. [The iPad app,] Start Over, Look Back, ever increasing amounts of On Demand, Wideband, Mobile, all providing customers a better experience using our products and services.”
TWCable TV app for iPad launched on March 15, 2011, and now has access to more than 100 channels. It’s the cable industry’s first app to deliver live, streaming cable programs to authenticated customers anywhere inside their homes without wires, TVs and set-tops. Since launch, more than 360,000 iPad users have downloaded the free app.
Look Back uses network-DVR technology to provide on demand access to programming from some 60 networks for up to three days after airing.
TWC returned more than $1 billion of capital to shareholders in 2010 through dividends and share repurchase programs.