It has been close to three years since Michael Cavanagh took charge at Comcast® as their Chief Financial Officer. Addressing a gathering at a recent investor conference held in Florida’s Palm Beach, he talked about the prospects of a deal with Sky plc. While other participants of the conference were in the attendees at Deutsche Bank Media and Telecom Conference, Cavanagh appeared live in a webcast and talked about how buying stakes in the pay-TV broadcaster could boost Comcast’s portfolio, which includes offering cheap cable and internet packages.
“We don’t see [Sky] as a satellite platform. We look at [Sky] being very distinct from what we see from some of the legacy satellite players in markets that we know,” he said in approval of Sky’s prospects to rival other companies that provide cable bundles much like Comcast®. If Comcast’s deal with Sky plc goes through, it will make the cable giant a rival of not just satellite providers, even the online streaming services will pose a challenge to Comcast®-Sky plc offerings.
Comcast® provides cheap cable and internet packages for residential customers under their Xfinity® brand. The pay TV broadcaster has a presence in markets United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Australia, Italy, and even offers an over-the-top (OTT) service in Spain. Comcast® unveiled its plans to acquire stakes in Sky plc last week. In a digital era where streaming services pose a challenge to cable providers that offer bundle packages, there are several avenues for customers to stream programming. No wonder, Cavanagh chose to appear live in a webcast during the investor conference.
There was also a discussion between Wall Street analysts, who questioned Comcast’s bid for a satellite platform, which will limit two-interactive TV for customers. In response to such skepticism, Cavanagh said that the cable giant, NBCU, and Sky plc could synergize programming, in particular for film and sports content, and cooperate in matters of innovative technology. As an example of prospective synergies, the Comcast® CFO pointed out to a Sky Q box and Xfinity® X1 set-top-box integration, and Sky plc as a content aggregator.
“We don’t see it [Sky] as a satellite business, but much more as an enabling technology that, as they invest in new technology, there will be other ways for people to experience that video content,” Cavanagh told the investors. However, he has not commented about the prospects of a two-way bidding war between Comcast® and 21st Century Fox for stakes in Sky plc. Whether the best internet provider could bag the European broadcaster remains to be seen.