Comcast-TWC Execs Talk Overnight Deal, What Consumers Can Expect

9:51 AM PST 02/13/2014 by Hilary Lewis
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images; AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
TWC CEO Rob Marcus and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts

As a snowstorm raged outside, execs from the two cable operators detailed the flurry of activity that led to an early Thursday morning agreement and talked about what customers can look forward to.

There may have been a blizzard outside Comcast and Time Warner Cable's headquarters in Philadelphia and New York Thursday, but the real flurry of activity occurred over the past week as the two largest cable companies in the U.S. reached a $45.2 billion deal for Comcast to buy TWC.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said that they signed the deal paperwork at 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning, speaking on a Thursday morning conference call with reporters and execs from both companies.

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Roberts also noted that Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis played the lead role in the complicated negotiation process.

"It's been a very cooperative discussion with all the folks at TWC," Angelakis said. "Obviously we've all known each other for a very, very, very long time and are personal friends in some ways, so that made it a lot easier."

Roberts and Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus also talked about what consumers can expect from the deal.

Roberts highlighted the many technological advances Comcast had made recently, saying that he looked forward to bringing those to Time Warner Cable's customers.

"As we look to Time Warner's consumers, we believe we can continue to make it more valuable, to give them more competition, competitive choices, give them more products, speed up the Internet, as we've done each of the last 12 years," Roberts said, detailing the ability of Comcast customers to record programs on their DVR and watch them on their tablets, among other innovations. "These things were not possible even 24 months ago and will continue to be possible as we innovate going forward. I think there's a lot of benefit for consumers, a lot of benefit for small businesses. We're going to invest, create jobs as we have over 50 years, and I think the best is yet to come."

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When asked whether customers could expect more public retransmission disputes like Time Warner Cable's fight with CBS this summer, Marcus said that's not typically how they handle those negotiations.

"History here is kind of colored by recent events, and I think if you view the entire history of Time Warner Cable through the lens of the CBS dispute, it's really a mischaracterization of the way things have typically gone down," he said. "We've negotiated successfully and quietly countless agreements, and CBS was really the anomaly. At the end of the day, we negotiate hard, but we're most interested in delivering value to our customers without disruption. And I'm sure that's what Comcast will continue to do."

The execs said the prime motivator for the deal was the opportunity to invent products and customer experiences in both residential and business services, including, in Comcast's case, in markets not yet served by the cable operator, like New York and L.A.

Angelakis said he wouldn't get into expected layoffs as a result of the deal.

Toward the end of the call, as one of the reporters referenced the snowstorm outside during a question about next steps, the executives said their first priorities were figuring out how to get home.

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