Skip to main content

INTX 2016: Roberts: Comcast, X1 Ready for Olympics

Get more #INTX2016 news.

BOSTON – Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio will change the way people look at NBC and its parent Comcast, offering more than 6,000 hours of programming on multiple platforms and hopefully attracting the biggest TV audience ever.

The Olympics are scheduled for Aug.5-Aug. 21 in Rio de Janiero, the first “live” Olympics – the first in the Eastern Time Zone since the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Roberts, at the INTX Show General Session here on Monday, said Comcast is pulling all of the stops out for the event – its X1 platform will offer apps that direct viewers to streaming content as well as specific events, customers can search the Games by event, athlete and country as well as view medal events through a Gold Zone app on the user interface.

Roberts added that the flood of content and ways to watch it – on demand, live and via other devices like smartphones and tablets should make this the most watched Olympics ever, outpacing the London games – also broadcast by NBC – in 2012.

“We have an equal standard for Rio,” Roberts said at the session. “We’ve been waiting for this day for years, we’re going to throw everything at it.”

Comcast’s Olympic approach is inline with its overall strategy, to be an innovator with a strong customer service bent. That has shown up in its video customers results – Comcast has improved video looses in ten of the last 12 quarters and in the first quarter added 53,000 video customers.

Offering more innovative products also helps the bottom line. Roberts said people who consume more on demand product spend more money on DVRs and second outlets in the home.  And Comcast also has targeted college campuses with its WiFi products adding that one of the hopes is that will have a boomerang effect, making those same college kids Comcast customers when their life situation changes.

“The Olympics was a rallying cry for the whole company to put these things together,” Roberts said.

Later, at a question and answer session at the Comcast booth on the INTX show floor, Roberts talked about sports rights, adding that as both an owner and purchaser of sports content and regional sports networks, the value of certain rights varies. Comcast is currently in a carriage dispute with YES Network over carriage in the New York area, and though Roberts would not address the company directly, he said: “I think it’s a great business and I think it will continue to be a great business,” Roberts said. "There’s a lot of rethinking going on. I don’t know that there is any easy answer. We are learning from the experience we’re having in New Jersey and we do hope to get it resolved at some point, but maybe not.”