Charter says now's not the time for streaming video aggregation

Charter is seemingly pumping the brakes on its “aggregated video store” strategy as the company continues to keep its traditional video subscriber losses from getting out of control.

CFO Jessica Fischer spoke today at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom Conference and discussed her company’s embrace of app-based video products as a means of mitigating subscriber losses. Charter has previously said it hopes to launch a video aggregation marketplace and Fischer said cable has the history and the relationships to drive that aggregation. But she suggested that the streaming industry still needs to work out some issues with pricing and fragmention.

“We certainly are thinking about aggregation from a product perspective and how we can play a role in pulling it together. But I think right now it’s just not quite time yet given the number of products out there and the difficulty in pulling it all in,” Fischer said.

While Charter continues to examine the best way to enter the streaming aggregation market, competitors like Comcast and Verizon are moving further into the space. Earlier this month, Verizon announced the upcoming +Play, a platform that will pull together customer subscriptions across services including Netflix, Disney+, Peloton, WW International, A+E Networks, The Athletic, Calm, Duolingo, TelevisaUnivision’s Vix+, and Live Nation’s Veeps livestreaming concert service. The company said will provide ‘an easier way to manage subscriptions across any and all devices, and for a more effective way to discover new content.”

Still, as those same competitors continue to see their video subscriber bases shrivel, Charter has managed to keep its traditional video customer base from declining at the same rate as the overall U.S. pay TV industry. The cable operator lost 71,000 residential video customers during the fourth quarter but added 13,000 business video customers to end 2021 with 15.833 million total video customers.

Fischer said Charter has done this by focusing on value for customers and offering skinnier bundles for customers who want them. However, she warned that Charter’s ability to limit costs for video customers will continue to be disrupted by rising costs from programmers.

“Until that changes, I don’t know that there’s a way to be confident in what the long-term trends in video are because that component of the business is hard for us to control,” she said.