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Esser: Cox Focused on ‘Echo Boomers’

Washington -- Cox Communications Inc. president Patrick Esser, barely three months into his new job, has his cable company focused on the needs of so-called Echo Boomers, the children of Baby Boomers aged 15-25 who would rather have a computer than a TV and an iPod rather than a radio.

“Needless to say, these are our future VIP customers,” Esser said in a speech here to the Media Institute, an industry-funded First Amendment organization.

Echo Boomers -- also called “Millennials” -- represent a “seismic shift” in media-consumption habits and patterns, said Esser, who rattled off a number of statistics to make his point.

Within a few years, Echo Boomers will take over 25% of household purchasing budgets, spending money on mobile phones, game consoles and PCs, he added.

“They want network devices and they want portable content,” Esser said. “Echo Boomers love their PCs so much so that research shows they would choose a PC over a TV.”

While 10% of U.S. households have dropped their landline phones, 30% of Echo Boomers are expected to become cord-cutters, he added.

Consumption trends of Echo Boomers will have spillover effects, Esser said, adding, “Echo Boomers will clearly drive change in media consumption and, like no generation that has ever gone before them, they will take their Baby Boomer parents right along with them.”

Cox, based in Atlanta, has 6.3 million video, 3 million high-speed-data and 1.5 million phone subscribers. Esser took the reins Jan. 1 from James Robbins, who retired after a long tenure with company.

By 2010, Esser predicted that Cox would offer a total digital simulcast of its analog programming services, that 75% of Cox homes will have at least one digital set-top box and that 70% of digital homes will have at least one digital-video recorder.

In four years, Esser expects that 65% of Cox subscribers will have an HDTV package that will include at least 50 HD channels and a “vast array” of HD on-demand services.

However, he would not predict when Cox would be able to reclaim its entire analog bandwidth.

In the past year, Cox's DVR penetration more than doubled, reaching 665,000 subscribers. Research, Esser said, shows that DVR households spend 40% of their time watching recorded content.

“Remember that factoid," he added.