New Streaming Services' Lack of Sports, News May Limit Appeal, Says Charter CEO

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Charter Communications chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge

The pay TV bundle is "very expensive, and the disaggregated a la carte repackaged product is even more expensive," Tom Rutledge also told the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York.

Cable operator Charter Communications, in which John Malone's Liberty Broadband owns a big stake, feels that entertainment giants' new and upcoming streaming services could have some impact on pay TV subscriber losses, but not as much as other factors, chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge said Monday, suggesting that the lack of sports and news offerings would limit the appeal of streaming offers.

"That hasn't been the main driver," the exec said about the role of recent and upcoming streaming services on cord-cutting during an appearance at the UBS Global TMT (Technology, Media & Telecommunications) Conference in New York that was webcast. "TV Everywhere and the lack of security has been the bigger issue."

Rutledge added that "you still don't have broadcasting in most of those products and you don't have therefore big sports, you don't have 24-hour news, so there are a lot of reasons why those products aren't going to satisfy the full need for television consumers." 

He concluded: "When you add them all up, [it's] a lot of money. ... The [pay TV] bundle is very expensive, and the disaggregated a la carte repackaged product is even more expensive."

Rutledge on Monday also predicted that "the pressure in video [subscriptions] will continue" driven by "mostly price — the [pay TV] bundle has become very expensive." 

The exec also reiterated recent comments that content companies were in part to blame for the challenges of the pay TV bundle in the streaming video age because they make too much of their programming available for free via password sharing and the like.

Rutledge said earlier this year that the "problem with the bundle of video today is that the content companies that supply it essentially [make] their service available for free through TV Everywhere, excessive streams, password sharing and the free over-the-air television. ... And it’s free to a lot of consumers who have friends with passwords. So our ability to sell that product is ultimately constrained by our relationship with content [companies], and we have to manage that in terms of the kinds of power that the content companies have."