Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Talks Up Cloud Technology and Voice Remotes

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Brian Roberts

The executive also says 'Furious 7' is the most popular movie in China, and Universal's upcoming theme park there will feature a ride based on the film.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts imagined a scenario Wednesday where his company's subscribers could barricade themselves in their homes and never lack for entertainment, courtesy of cloud technology and remote controls you can talk to. Comcast has 6 million voice remotes to send to its best customers.

"We will give them away like Chiclets," he said at the second annual MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit on Wednesday.

He said it was "a magical moment" when he and his wife used one of the devices recently while watching Game of Thrones.

"It's all coming from the cloud. 'Find Forrest Gump. How old is Tom Hanks? Give me the latest news.' All that can come up. 'Turn the lights off, lock the doors.' The journey we're on from the cloud is so profound that we're only just beginning," he said.

The CEO said he has "moved on" from Comcast's attempt to acquire Time Warner Cable, but he noted that the failure didn't necessarily mean the company wouldn't pursue other large mergers in the future. A regulator, Roberts said, told him not to infer that the government objects to Comcast growing through acquisition simply because it was hostile to the notion of a combined Comcast-TWC.

Roberts, though, does worry about regulatory overreach in general because it would discourage his company and others to slow their investment in innovation. While the FCC so far isn't interested in price controls on broadband services, "It's the potential that's not good for us," he said.

Roberts also told the overflow audience of Wall Street analysts about a conversation he had with Bill Gates when the Microsoft co-founder invested in Comcast in 1997. Some day you'll have more data customers than video customers, Gates told him.

"I didn't know what he was talking about. But I was happy to take the billion dollars," Roberts said, before adding that in the most recent quarter Comcast did, indeed, have more data customers than video customers.

He also congratulated Universal Pictures, owned by Comcast, on Furious 7 becoming the most popular movie even in China, and said that there are plans for a ride based on the movie at the theme park Universal is building in that country.