Cable One set the trend for the rest of the industry back in 2013, deemphasizing video and setting the stage for the emergence of streaming services that dominate the business today.
Laulis has been an integral part of that transition, one followed by virtually every other cable operator since. She said former Cable One CEO Tom Might caught sight of some early signs of the decline of video that the team modeled out over time.
“We felt this trend was inevitable, so we embraced it and gained further confidence in our strategy given our early results,” Laulis said. “While we had the foresight to ‘skate to the puck,’ we could not predict whether the timing was right. But by 2016, these higher growth and higher margin products made up a majority of our revenues for the first time, which dramatically improved our profitability in large part because we were no longer subsidizing video.”
That switch helped fuel the company to an unprecedented period of growth. Since splitting from Graham Holdings (parent of The Washington Post Co.) in 2015, Cable One stock has been the top performer in the sector, rising more than five-fold from $399.85 to $2,021.25 per share in five years.
Laulis got her start in the cable business 35 years ago with Hauser Communications, later moving to Jones Communications. Since 1999, she has held several roles within Cable One ranging from marketing to operations and customer service, which has given her a breadth of experience across all lines of the company’s business, culminating in being named president and CEO in 2017 and, a year later, chair of the board.
While Cable One has profited from the switch in focus to broadband, Laulis is not ready to call the video business dead. She believes video still plays a vital role in informing and entertaining the public, even as consumers have myriad more choices and options to access that information today.
“So rather than saying video isn’t an option, it seems more likely that video as we know it today will continue to evolve,” she said.
Michael Farrell is senior content producer — finance.
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