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Comcast CEO Needs Greek Literature

Comcast logoComcast (CMCSA) CEO Brian Roberts answered the question I asked Monday. In a presentation at a New York conference today, he clearly indicated that Comcast has no plans for a lower priced broadband offering and exhibited hubris worthy of Greek literature.


I’d suggest he read Homer’s Odyssey, an outstanding example of hubris as a theme in Greek Mythology. The Odyssey is thick reading, but with his competition so vanquished, I imagine he has plenty of time on his hands.

Enough fun. Let’s take a look at what was said.

Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, which ended 2005 with 21.5 million subscribers, said that he doesn’t worry about competition from the phone companies. Instead, he said the biggest challenge is from satellite TV companies like DirecTV and EchoStar.

The CEO of the largest cable company sees a 20-year old business model as his biggest threat. It must be a ridiculous bluff. It gets better.

“If you could divorce yourself from the stock price, we’re doing well,”

Aha, Roberts is clearly not a believer in the efficient market theory, eh?

And in another jab at the Bells, Roberts promised that Comcast would heavily promote its digital-phone service this year and added that he did not see a need to cut prices to compete with the phone companies.

“There is a perception that cable companies have the best products so we can charge the most,” he said.

Whose perception Mr. Roberts? Yours? Finally, on FiOS:

“I think it does not show any economic promise,” Roberts said, when asked about Verizon’s efforts. “In the last 10 years, it has not gotten cheaper to string fiber optics to the home.” He predicted that Verizon would wind up spending “gobs of money” to be only a fourth-tier player in video.

Well, you can’t say you don’t know how he plans to run his company. Now that we have a clear idea that he plans to do nothing different, including not create a lower priced broadband offering (currently $45 a month or nothing), I can without a doubt say these guys are making themselves an easy target to take down.

Like Penelope’s suitors in The Odyssey, CEO’s that disregard their competitors and stakeholders will meet a most unfortunate end- even if it takes 10 years for Odysseus to arrive. And when he did, it wasn’t pretty:

Antinous, ringleader of the suitors, is just lifting a drinking cup when Odysseus puts an arrow through his throat. The goatherd sneaks out and comes back with shields and spears for the suitors, but now Athena appears. She sends the suitors’ spearthrusts wide, as Odysseus, Telemachus and the two faithful herdsmen strike with volley after volley of lances. They finish off the work with swords. Those of the housemaids who consorted with the suitors are hung by the neck in the courtyard, while the treacherous goatherd is chopped to bits.

[Courtesy Broadband Reports]

Discussion

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  1. Both cable and the telcos richly deserve the competition that is sure to eventually come from wireless service and broadband over power lines. If it’s wireless technologies that prevail, many competitors are possible. The duopoly will be finished, and both will be sitting on alot of stranded investment. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

    Posted by RichL | February 12, 2006, 10:34 PM
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