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Beyond NBC Universal: Comcast Talks Growth

The first line of questioning for Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis at Goldman Sachs' Communacopia conference: the NBC Universal acquisition. Angelakis says they're moving through the regulatory process and heading towards a year-end close. But most of the session was focused on the rest of Comcast's business.

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Despite plenty of talk about consumers ditching their cable service, Angelakis says he's not concerned about customers "cutting the cord."

The video business is a mature business, and he says that it's been softer than they'd like, in part due to the housing slowdown, but Comcast does have great marketshare and great scale.

The company's growth, Angelakis says, is coming from high-speed data and business services.

Comcast is feeling the recession in that more customers are opting for the "economy" service in video and voice. But when it comes to Internet access, people are still obsessed with speed. In fact, Angelakis says that one fifth of customers hare buying the highest-tier high-speed data option. Another factor that will continue to drive growth is getting more customers to sign up for all three services. Now just one third of Comcast customers take all three of its services, which means major room for growth.

Comcast's future lies in moving beyond the distinctions of TV or Cable, to become the gateway for how consumers access all their video content. In fact, when making this point Angelakis corrected himself, first saying "TV," then "video" — content is content, whether you watch it on your lap top or your flat screen. Next month Comcast will launch its "TV Everywhere" offering, called Xfinity, which gives customers access to subscription cable content online and on demand.

With transmission deals between media giants and cable operators making headlines of late (see my previous post on Disney and Time Warner Cable's deal),Angelakis acknowledged that programming costs will continue to increase. But they're not just increasing because media giants have leverage and can threaten to pull shows off the air — they're increasing because their subscribers will be watching their shows digitally. So if higher programming costs come along with a growing piece of the digital pie, that's a good thing.

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