The future of television could include new packages that combine internet services with streaming, and Comcast could be the first to do it, according to the head of Comcast Cable, David Watson.
The executive spoke today (May 23) at the J.P. Morgan Investor Conference. He announced Comcast’s new streaming service and discussed the broader television and internet economy with JP Morgan Chase analyst Philip Cusick.
As the president and CEO of Comcast Cable, a division of Comcast, Watson is responsible for the company’s entire cable business. Its assets include wireless network Xfinity mobile, streaming service Xumo and software support branch StreamSage, among others.
Television as an industry is facing choppy waters as consumers increasingly cancel their cable subscriptions in favor of streaming platforms. At the same time, few streaming services have earned a profit.
“The hope is that there will be a next generation of packaging opportunities” that include both broadband and streaming products, Watson said at the conference. Comcast is “getting prepared for where consumers are going, not where they are.”
Watson has worked in Comcast’s cable business since 1991. He held various leadership roles including the title of chief operating officer for seven years. The company promoted him to chief executive in 2017. Prior to working in the cable division, he held the roles of senior vice president and president of Comcast Cellular Communications, the company’s mobile sector. He also previously headed sales and marketing at Bell Atlantic Mobile and Metrophone, now owned by Verizon and AT&T, respectively.
He serves on the board of directors for various organizations, including CableLabs, a cable industry research nonprofit; Amkor Technology, a semiconductor company; and the National Cable and Television Association, a trade group for which he is the chairman.
Comcast’s new streaming service
Comcast appears to be dually leaning on streaming and cable for the future of its business.
The media giant is launching a new streaming platform that will combine the company’s cable channels with its streaming products, Watson announced today. The service, which will be available to consumers in the coming weeks, will be called Now TV. It will cost $20 per month and include television channels, free ad-supported streaming products and Peacock Premium. Channels include HGTV, TLC and Discovery, according to a company statement. Xumo, Comcast’s free streaming service with genres from action to Bollywood, will also be available on Now TV. It is only available to Xfinity Internet customers, according to the statement.
“Now TV is a great starter video service, priced attractively, but still will be financially accretive for us,” Watson said.
The platform builds on Comcast’s existing Now product. Sky Group, a media and telecom company, launched Now as a subscription television service in the U.K. in 2012. Comcast acquired Sky Group and Now in 2018.