Time Warner Cable CEO "Very Confident" Company Will Post Full-Year Video Sub Growth

Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus - H 2015
Courtesy of Time Warner Cable

Rob Marcus also discusses the review of Charter's planned acquisition of the company at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York.

Time Warner Cable is on track to post full-year TV subscriber growth, CEO Rob Marcus said Wednesday at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York.

"As we go into the homestretch of 2015, we are very confident that we will deliver video sub growth for the full year, which is a significant milestone, not only for us, but for the industry," he said. The cable giant is having its best video subscriber year "probably in a decade" despite "some cord cutting" in the industry.

TWC gained 30,000 residential video subscribers in the first quarter and lost 45,000 in the second and 7,000 in the third quarter. In terms of business service video subscribers, it added 3,000 in the first quarter and 2,000 each in the following two quarters.

Asked by The Hollywood Reporter on the sidelines of the conference if full-year growth would come in combined TV subscribers or also residential TV subs on their own, Marcus said both are looking to be on track for growth.

Cable operators have lost TV subscribers in recent years, but such companies as Comcast, TWC and Charter have talked about their goal of returning to full-year growth in pay TV subs.

Marcus at the UBS conference touted the "operational turnaround" at the company and said 2015 has "been a year of surprises," led by Comcast's abandoning its plan to buy TWC, leading to a deal with Charter Communications.

Discussing the latest in the Charter-TWC deal review by regulators, Marcus said, "I'm out of the business of making best guesses," joking that he has been doing a pretty "lousy" job in that regard so far. But he said the FCC review process deadline is currently set for March, if there are no further delays.

A vote on the deal by California state regulators is set to happen in June, later than TWC had hoped, Marcus said, but he added his team was "working with them to move that process along more quickly."

Asked about skinny bundles, the CEO said that TWC years ago launched TV Essentials, but he reiterated past comments that it has not drawn many subscribers. It has customers in the low-10,000s range, he said.

Marcus on Wednesday also showed no major concern about Amazon's announcement that it will sell Showtime and Starz as added programming services. Premium TV networks are "not an area that has been terribly profitable for us," he said, but emphasized TWC likes to offer them as they round out cable companies' overall offering.

Discussing its regional sports network SportsNet LA for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the lack of carriage deals with such big pay TV operators as DirecTV, Marcus said, "We are not giving up" and will look to strike pacts for the 2016 season. "Hopefully we’ll cut deals," he said, adding that the lack of agreements was among his "surprises and disappointments" of 2015.

Marcus also predicted that programming costs would continue to rise "for the foreseeable future."