Rob Marcus, incoming CEO of Time Warner Cable, said the cable company is "open" to offering Netflix on its set-top boxes -- but in the same breath, he touted the MSO's ability to offer a more robust video offering on multiple devices.
The remarks by Marcus, who spoke Monday at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference in New York, highlight the ambivalence that big pay-TV companies have on the question of whether Netflix is ultimately complementary or competitive.
Netflix Needs Cable, But the Feeling Isn't Always Mutual
Asked about the prospect of TW Cable adding over-the-top services like Netflix, Marcus responded that "we're certainly open to it."
But, he noted, one of the things consumers have found attractive about Netflix is that its service is accessible on multiple devices. And Time Warner Cable has "been out there on the forefront of making our video available on an increasing number of IP-enabled devices."
"When TWC TV is on Roku, it's sitting right next to Netflix," Marcus said.
The cable operator's online-video service, TWC TV, provides access to 300-plus live TV channels and 5,000 hours of video-on-demand in the home on five platforms: Apple iOS and Android devices, personal computers, Samsung Smart TVs and Roku set-tops.
TW Cable will be announcing a sixth device platform in the next week or two, Marcus added. The cable company reportedly has been in discussions with Apple to add the streaming-video service to the Apple TV device.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has acknowledged his interest in cutting distribution deals with U.S. operators, after inking similar pacts with the U.K.'s Virgin Media and other European providers. "I'm really hopeful we can do that with both Comcast and other people in the industry," Hastings said on the company's Oct. 21 earnings call.
SEE ALSO: Comcast to Offer Netflix on Set-Tops? Three Reasons It Makes Sense
Comcast, for its part, similarly sees potential value in wrapping Netflix into a unified video service -- but execs have said there's no burning urgency to do so.
"Our customers can receive Netflix in a number of ways, so it's not really a high priority for us," Comcast Cable president and CEO Neil Smit said on the company's third-quarter earnings call.
Also at the UBS conference, Marcus complained that his comments in an interview last week with Bloomberg were taken "out of context." According to the report, Marcus said Time Warner Cable would be willing to sell the company if the price tag were high enough.
"I want to make absolutely clear that our management team is absolutely focused on running Time Warner Cable for the long haul," he said Monday. "There's no way I would let my personal agenda get in the way of making the right decision for shareholders."
Time Warner Cable has been eyed as a potential takeover target by several big cable peers. According to reports, Charter Communications -- together with John Malone's Liberty Media, which owns a minority stake in Charter -- Comcast and Cox Communications have reportedly been in various stages of evaluating deals to acquire or merge with Time Warner Cable. TW Cable would likely accept a bid of $150-$160 per share, Bloomberg reported last week, citing an anonymous source.
"Whether or not Time Warner Cable will participate in M&A is, and always has been, 100% driven by what's in the best interests of our shareholders," Marcus said at the UBS confab.
Marcus is set to become CEO in January following the retirement this month of Glenn Britt.
Netflix on Time Warner Cable Is a Possibility, Says Operator's Incoming CEO
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