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Charter’s Rutledge: New Streaming Services ‘Haven’t Been Successful From a Linear Perspective Yet’

Even for Charter Communications, a company that actually added 56,000 video users in 2020, it seems like the end days in regard to traditionally bundled linear pay TV. 

With U.S. pay TV operators losing another 6 million customers last year, Charter’s chairman and CEO, Tom Rutledge said bundled linear services are being “priced out of the market” by lower cost direct-to-consumer streaming platforms.

Speaking Tuesday at Morgan Stanley’s annual Technology, Media & Telecom conference, Rutledge said Charter will remain in the video business. But he seemed to describe a future in which the cable company resells third-party OTT services. 

“It’s important that we be a video connectivity company as well as a broadband company and a mobile company,” Rutledge said. “We need to satisfy a customer’s full range of connectivity issues.

“I think we can manage our video relationships with customers going forward and we can sell streaming packages and be a storefront and an aggregator,” he added. “The industry will segment into much narrower niches. People still spend a lot of time on the big screen and there’s an opportunity there for us to be the best provider of those products because of our customer relationships, and to have a higher-quality product and a more valuable product.”

Rutledge also pointed out that from Disney Plus on down, none of the direct-to-consumer services recently launched have been nearly as profitable as linear pay TV was just a few short years ago.

“The new streaming and on-demand products really haven’t been successful from a linear perspective yet,” Rutledge said.

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!