Charter explains why Spectrum still doesn’t have a voice remote

Charter’s Spectrum TV service lags behind competitors like Comcast X1 and Altice One, due in part to not having a voice remote. CFO Chris Winfrey explained why his company still doesn’t offer that feature to subscribers.

Speaking today at a Bank of America investor conference, Winfrey said that Spectrum doesn’t have a voice remote right now because the company has been “so focused” over the past few years on integrating the Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks assets it acquired in 2016.

“That wasn’t our number one priority and it’s probably the piece that’s lacking,” he said.

Winfrey did praise what he called a “very modern user interface” for Spectrum subscribers which is available across multiple platforms including Apple TV, Android TV, iOS and Android devices, PlayStation, desktops, Samsung TVs and more.

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“It’s the same spectrum guide and we think it’s very modern. I think it’s as good as anyone else’s guide,” he said.

Last year, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said that his company is “down the road” with its own user interface, but said that Charter has had discussions with Comcast about licensing X1 and Comcast’s IP video platform. Other U.S. cable operators like Cox already deploy a white-label version of X1.

“If we could make that the best platform for us, we’d certainly be willing to do that,” said Rutledge. “We think they’d be a great provider.”

Winfrey also addressed Charter’s surprising video subscriber numbers for the second quarter. Charter added a net 102,000 video subscribers amid continued losses for its competitors and Winfrey today reiterated his company’s explanation that the video subscriber additions were a product of huge broadband growth outpacing video losses.

“In this case, because there were so many broadband sales coming through, it had a pull-through effect on video as well. I’m not here to tell you that that’s going to exist forever. Because we’re confident in ourselves, I think we have the ability to outperform the market. But I think the market continues to decline,” he said.

Winfrey said that what matters most to Charter is having a competitive video product that supports broadband and wireless. He said that because there’s very little profitability left in the video business, it doesn’t really matter if Charter is in a net loss situation on video as long as the company has video products that support its connectivity businesses.