Time Warner Cable CEO Says Skinny Bundles the Future

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Time Warner Cable says it is encouraged by the company’s skinny bundle trials, but given the company’s looming acquisition by Charter, that may not mean all that much. Since late 2015 Time Warner Cable has been running a trial in New York that provides a free Roku 3 and a smattering of different cable networks — without a traditional cable box. According to the promotional flyer being sent to users, customers under the trial have the choice of a $10 20+ channel bundle, a $20, 20+ channel bundle with Showtime and Starz, and a $50, 70 channel bundle that also includes Showtime and Starz.

“While it’s too early to draw quantitative conclusions from our New York City IPTV trial, the early feedback is encouraging,” Rob Marcus said on the company’s earnings calls last week. “Customers liked the offering and really appreciate that we’re attuned to what they’re looking for.”

Given Time Warner Cable won’t technically exist in a few months from now, and Marcus himself is about to exit the company via $91 million golden parachute, the company obviously can’t dictate what happens now with the trial. But Marcus claims the limited, year-long, one-city trial is an example of the cable industry’s willingness to be more flexible on price and programming.

“I think that’s just one example of an overriding trend which is that our industry is increasingly following the consumer,” Marcus said. “I think in the past we were much less responsive to what consumers wanted And it’s I think where the industry is going.”

Granted it may be going that direction, but not without a little kicking and screaming. Consumers may like the skinny bundle Time Warner Cable is offering, but the company hasn’t been willing to expand the offer’s availability — for fear of cannibalizing traditional cable customers. But, with his departure, Marcus is leaving that problem for somebody else to worry about.

“I think it promises a much more customer-friendly experience, which avoids many of the pain points that have historically marked our business,” Marcus said. “But I think that’s just one example, and I have no doubt that with very smart people at the helms of the major cable companies, there are going to be a lot of other innovations along those lines.”


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