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Comcast Wholesale exec: 'Comcast has transformed itself into a tech company'


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Comcast Wholesale exec: 'Comcast has transformed itself into a tech company'

The emergence of OTT platforms like has altered the TVindustry's competitive landscape. Driven by changing viewing habits and therise in cord-cutting, particularly among millennials, digital innovation atcable companies has become a crucial component for their investors.

At the annual TV Connect conference in London,SNL Kagan sat down with Barry Tishgart, vice president, IP service, for ComcastWholesale, a division of Comcast Cable, Comcast Corp.'s cable division, to discuss howtechnology is reshaping America's biggest cable and internet service provider.What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation.

SNL Image Barry Tishgart, vice president of Comcast Wholesale
Source: Comcast

SNL Kagan: Tell us what Comcast Wholesale does?

Barry Tishgart: Comcast Wholesale is part of Comcast PlatformServices, which is really our attempt to make Comcast more of a technologycompany. Comcast Wholesale has, for the past six years, operated in a varietyof markets including voice, data, and video services. In that time, Comcast hastransformed itself from being a cable company to being a media and technologycompany. And so, ultimately, what Comcast Platform Services does is take thosetechnologies to other customers around the world.

What are your largest areas of focus at present?

The videoplatform is one. The second is Comcast's X1 platform, our entertainmentoperating system that powers all of Comcast Cable. The reason that is part ofComcast Wholesale is because we are syndicating that for other operators. Forinstance, we have licensed that technology to operators such as andShaw CommunicationsInc. And we are actively looking at others to use our white label,the operating system, as their cable platform and TV Everywhere platform going forward.Our third area of focus is the ad platform, which is really dedicated toadvertising delivery and moving advertising assets between agencies andbroadcasters.

How important is adtech to your overallstrategy?

Given thatapproximately 30% of Comcast's revenues as a company come from advertisingalone, we spend a lot of time working on technologies that power theadvertising business. We have a set of businesses and tools that focus on thedelivery of advertising and its monetization and Comcast's acquisitions ofadtech businesses FreeWheel and Visible World, in 2014 and 2015 respectively,play a central role in that strategy.

Should more broadcasters and cable companiesthink like technology companies?

That is achoice that they have to make for themselves. For Comcast, with its size andscale, this step was crucial because we weren't embracing the kinds oftechnologies that we needed to compete and keep pace in this new televisionenvironment, particularly with the entrance of players like Netflix. So werealized we need to flip that model.

Has the industry as a whole responded quicklyenough to the threat of OTT providers like Netflix?

Firstly, Iwould stress that there is an incredible overlap between cable subscriptionsand Netflix. But the important thing is that we are taking the technologiesthat power our OTT video subscriber growth and making them available for thirdparties around the world. We have a very comprehensive set of abilities to helpbroadcasters and programmers go OTT. Secondly, with many newplatforms and services emerging, Comcast has stayed ahead of the curve in theU.S. market through its X1 platform in particular. We are installing over50,000 boxes per day for our customers so that product has extraordinary uptakeand, as a TV Everywhere platform, it goes beyond transforming the viewingexperience in your living room. As more and more people adopt the X1 platform,it gives a boost to the availability of traditional cable programming anywhere.As a result, this not only fuels alternative and competition in the market, butit also adds to the value of the video bundle.

Where are you looking for growth?

I think thetakeaway message is that there is still a lot of value in the bundle andtraditional cable companies are competing quite well, despite the fact that somuch has been made of cord-cutting and viewers switching to OTT providers.Comcast's previous financial quarters speak for themselves. There's stillgrowth in the TV industry. Obviously broadband is growing and we have a strongenterprise business so I think we should see those trends continue.