Check Out Our New Look

R.I.P: Glenn Britt

By | Wednesday June 11, 2014 @ 7:11am PDT

Glenn Britt Dead Time Warner CableA sad day for the cable industry. The former Time Warner Cable CEO, and a cable pioneer, died this morning from cancer at age 65. His successor, Rob Marcus, just released this statement: “Glenn left us with a legacy of innovation, integrity and inclusion. We were guided for many years by his strong belief that a company must be willing to reinvent itself to be successful; his commitment to saying what you mean and doing what you say; and his conviction that a richly diverse workforce – diverse in ethnicity, culture, beliefs, perspectives, experiences time-warner-cable-logoand lifestyles – is necessary to best serve our diverse customers and communities. He will long be remembered for his thoughtful and steady leadership through rapidly changing times in the communications field.”

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts calls Glenn Britt “an incredible leader, visionary, and for decades he was a wonderful friend and mentor. He was a key part of our industry’s growth and success and was a true leader in every respect.  His focus on helping others was heartwarming, and his competitive spirit was inspiring.  He will be deeply missed.”

Britt became TWC’s chief in 2001, when the company was still part of Time Warner. Earlier he oversaw the creation of Road Runner, the nation’s first high-speed Internet service. He also served as Time Warner’s treasurer, and — before it merged with Warner Communications — CFO of Time Inc. Read More »

Comments (2)

Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman, Episode 57

Listen to (and share) episode 57 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive business editor and host David Bloom talk about Time-Warner Cable, which says that its recent CBS blackout was surprisingly painful but worth every penny, even as retiring CEO Glenn Britt looks back on 41 years in the business. They also talk about Facebook, which is trying to relocate its mojo as young teens turn elsewhere and marketers get frustrated; DreamWorks Animation, which finally has reason to look animated as short sellers take a pounding; and Google, which announced a slew of new mobile and social media products that could have big impacts on the phone business.

Deadline Big Media, Episode 57 (MP3 format)
Deadline Big Media, Episode 57 (M4a format) Read More »

Comments (0)

Time Warner Cable Says CBS Fight Hurt Worse Than Expected, But Was Worth It

By | Thursday October 31, 2013 @ 7:58am PDT

“We are better off with CBS than we would have been if we had not had this fight,” Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt told analysts this morning about the contract dispute that resulted in a 32-day blackout of CBS stations and channels this summer. If that’s true, then CBS must have started off bargaining for a horrific deal because the final results were terrible for Time Warner Cable. COO Rob Marcus, who’ll succeed Britt at year end, said that subscription losses — some disclosed in this morning’s Q3 earnings report — “were much worse than we planned.” They included “elevated customer disconnects” and a 10% increase in the number of people dropping video from their double or triple play packages. The sub losses “bled over into [broadband] and voice.” And the showdown contributed to a spike in calls to TWC’s service centers. The fracas ended up slashing revenues by $15M and cash flow by $5M in Q3 — and will have a spillover effect on Q4. The damage was “much greater than expected,” says Credit Suisse’s Michael Senno.  MoffettNathanson Research’s Craig Moffett was more blunt: “Every cable operator now goes to the table knowing that CBS not only won the war, but left TWC badly damaged even for having fought the fight.  If you thought the scales were tipped in programmers’ favor before, now you know that it is worse than you imagined.”

Related: TWC’s Glenn Britt Reflects On Four Decades In The Industry

Read More »

Comments (4)

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt Reflects On 41 Years At An Industry That Fulfilled His Dreams

By | Thursday October 31, 2013 @ 7:12am PDT

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt’s popularly seen as a cerebral numbers guy. But he showed his heart as well this morning in his company’s Q3 earnings call with analysts. It’s his last, as he plans to retire at year end, turning the top job over to COO Rob Marcus. Britt also disclosed this week that he has cancer. He used the opportunity today to say farewell to the investment community and reflect on some lessons he has learned in his 41 years in the cable business. He covered a lot of ground; I’ve posted his entire remarks below. He says that he was attracted to cable after graduating from business school in 1972 because “I thought it represented a new industry with new technology that had a chance to challenge old incumbent ways and transform the media and communications industries by adding to entertainment choices and the diversity of voices in the public policy debates that are so important to our form of government.” Although “the odds of pulling it off were slim” he says that he was  ”young and like many others took a chance.” And “by any measure, this industry has fulfilled those dreams.” Several of Wall Street’s toughest analysts were clearly choked up as they pressed on with their questions about TWC’s income statement, and strategy. I was too, having covered Britt since Time and Warner were separate companies. Whatever you think about the company or cable — they’re controversial, I know — Britt is the industry’s statesman. He’s a straight-shooter who loves what he does, stands up for his beliefs, feels a sense of public mission, and never seemed bothered by tough questions. I wish him well.

Here are Britt’s reflections:

Related:
TWC Says CBS Fight Hurt Worse Than Expected But Was Worth It
Time Warner Cable’s Dispute With CBS Hit Q3 Earnings And Subs

Read More »

Comments (2)

Time Warner Cable COO Rob Marcus To Replace Glenn Britt As CEO At Year End

By | Thursday July 25, 2013 @ 12:41pm PDT

The Time Warner Cable chief confirmed the long-standing rumor that, after 12 years running the No. 2 cable operator, he’ll split at year-end when his contract expires. Directors formally designated COO Rob Marcus as his heir, and elected him to join the board immediately. The transition is taking place at a time when TWC’s own fate is filled with questions: Liberty Media’s John Malone is probing for opportunities to help Charter Communications take a run at TWC. The company also has been weighing opportunities to buy systems, possibly Cablevision or Cox. Meanwhile, TWC is embroiled in a bitter dispute over carriage prices with CBS, which could result in its stations going dark on the cable company’s systems in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas. Britt, 64, has led the cable industry’s charge against rising programming costs, dropping small channels including Ovation that he said did not carry their weight. But the exec — who rose through the ranks as a numbers guy at Time and then Time Warner — didn’t flinch from spending to upgrade TWC’s lines so they could accommodate two-way communications: That paved the way for the current boom in broadband and interactive TV, contributing to the 270% rise in TWC’s shares over the last four years. TWC lead director N.J. Nicholas praised … Read More »

Comments (1)

Time Warner Cable CEO Warns That Price Hikes Might Backfire: Cable Show

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt, cable’s Jeremiah when it comes to the industry’s rising prices, appeared more worried than ever today — and still out of step with his colleagues — when he discussed the issue with Wall Street analysts at the annual Cable Show taking place this week in DC. “People are starting to pay attention to the fact that the multichannel TV package, the big package which is in 90% of the homes, is starting to get too expensive for lower-income people,” he said. Broadcast networks, sports channels and others who have stepped up their demands for higher rates shouldn’t become cavalier just because “nothing is going to happen” with Sen. John McCain’s bill to promote a la carte pricing. (Britt added, “And he doesn’t think so either, by the way.”) The bill is “just the beginning of it. It would behoove the whole industry including the content companies who are all crowing about their pricing power to pay attention because it will come to some end that we may not like if we all keep behaving the way we are.” It was hard to find others at the industry love fest who’d publicly agree. Read More »

Comments (3)

Time Warner Cable Says It Sees Little Impact From Google Fiber

By | Thursday April 25, 2013 @ 6:40am PDT

“They have a glow about them,” Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt told analysts this morning. But he sees the search company’s effort to expand its speedy fiber-optic broadband system to Austin — intensifying the competition with Time Warner Cable that began in Kansas City — as “no different” than other overbuilders that have failed to overtake cable operators. Execs say that there’s been a “de minimus” impact so far on Time Warner Cable. While Google Fiber is “very aggressive on price” its products are “essentially the same” as the cable company’s, Britt says. “The video’s the same and the speeds for the last part (of the broadband service) are faster but they connect to the same old Internet….I question the economics of this, and therefore their motivation.” He adds that Google has an “obvious public relations intent to depict the cable and phone industries as stuck with old technology.” But when it comes to business services, which need high Internet speeds more acutely than residential customers do, “we’re pulling tons of fiber.” Google’s “imagery painting is very effective, but not the reality.”

Related: Time Warner Cable Q1 Earnings Fall Shy Of Analysts’ Expectations

Comments (19)

Time Warner Cable’s Glenn Britt Made $17.4M In 2012, +5.6%

By | Thursday April 4, 2013 @ 2:45pm PDT

The company says the compensation reflects its focus on performance targets, including the stock price which was up 49.7% in 2012. As chairman and CEO, Glenn Britt’s package included $1.2M salary, $3.7M in stock awards, $5.2M in option awards, $6.6M in non equity compensation, $141,250 change in pension value, and $512,813 in other compensation. The “other” pay mostly was for Britt’s personal use of Time Warner Cable’s aircraft, according to the proxy filed at the SEC this afternoon. It also includes personal use of a company car “and specially trained driver provided for security reasons.” Britt’s compensation is about four times the median for the company’s four other top execs; corporate governance watchdogs fear that CEOs wield too much power when they make more than three times the median. This could become an issue at the company’s shareholder meeting, to be held May 16 in Saratoga Springs, NY. Investors will register their views about compensation in the federally mandated advisory say-on-pay resolution. In addition, shareholders have submitted a resolution requiring the company to disclose its lobbying activities. Time Warner Cable opposes the initiative saying it already provides “appropriate transparency in this area.”

Comments (4)

Is Glenn Britt Preparing To Leave Time Warner Cable?

By | Friday February 1, 2013 @ 1:11pm PST

The Wall Street Journal says today that the No. 2 cable operator’s CEO will leave at year end, and Time Warner Cable doesn’t come close to trying to deny it. “Glenn is under contract and if and when he decides to step down, we’ll have an announcement,” the company says. Britt’s current contract, amended in 2011, expires at the end of the year according to Time Warner Cable’s most recent proxy statement. Britt’s compensation for 2011 came to $16.4M. That was about twice as much as the package for the second highest paid exec, COO Rob Marcus, who likely would replace Britt. The leak, attributed to “a person familiar with the matter,” comes just a day after Time Warner Cable disappointed investors with its higher-than-expected loss of video customers and uninspiring financial guidance for the rest of the year. Shares fell 11.6% yesterday. Read More »

Comments (2)

Time Warner Cable CEO Warns He’ll Drop Pricey But Low-Rated Channels: UBS

By | Monday December 3, 2012 @ 7:44am PST

Time Warner Cable‘s Glenn Britt took a tougher stance on this subject than I’ve heard in a while in his presentation this morning at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York. “We’re going to take a hard look at each service and those services that cost too much relative to the viewership, we’re going to drop them,” he says. He adds that “if you have a network that has hashmark ratings and isn’t going anywhere, we’re going to have a different conversation” in 2013 than before. The problem, he says, is that many cable network owners “almost feel like it’s a birthright” for their channels to be included in the basic pay TV bundle. When the channels don’t perform, owners say “next year I’ll work harder and spend more money on programming and it’ll be good.” But Time Warner Cable, along with other pay TV distributors, can no longer pass those costs along to subscribers. With the economy “bouncing along the bottom,” Britt says, “the consumer is telling us that we can’t afford these prices anymore.” His company has been squeezed: Since 2008 his programming costs have risen 30% while his video prices have gone up 15%, exceeding the 10% rise in the Consumer Price Index. Network owners have an interest in maintaining the current system of bundling channels because “the entertainment business is one of the riskiest businesses on the planet.” If consumers were allowed to just pay for the channels they want, television’s business model would look “a lot more like Broadway theaters.” Read More »

Comments (11)

Cable Execs Warn That Dish Network’s Ad-Zapping DVR Could Lead To Higher Costs

Cable Show DVRBroadcasters received moral support this morning from cable in the looming battle against the new Auto Hop feature on Dish Network‘s Hopper DVRs, which enables the machines to automatically recognize and skip over ads on recorded shows. “In the end a technology like that could create real carnage for the industry,” Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said in a panel opening this week’s annual Cable Show. And he put Dish Network’s Charlie Ergen on notice that his programming costs could soar if he continues to sell the ad-zapper. “He needs our content,” Zaslav says. “If there isn’t going to be advertising, then there needs to be a lot higher subscriber fees.” He says the pay TV industry needs to be “disciplined” to protect the current system built around ads and subscriber payments. Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said that in the long run it could hurt consumers. “Either subscription prices are going to go up or there’s going to be less content made,” he said. “Destroying the revenue isn’t going to have the effect people think.” But AOL chief Tim Armstrong said that Dish’s initiative puts more pressure on advertisers and media companies to develop commercials that people will want to watch. “The reality is you have a superengaged consumer,” he says. “How do you make more engaging advertising tied to how people are using the media?” He urged pay TV providers to recognize … Read More »

Comments 22

Time Warner Cable’s Glenn Britt Made $16.4M In 2011, Down 5.7%

By | Tuesday April 3, 2012 @ 2:35pm PDT

The chief of the No. 2 cable company lost about $1M in non-equity incentives, but otherwise held steady vs 2010, according to Time Warner Cable’s proxy statement. The package: $1.3M salary, $3.2M stock awards, $4.2M option awards, $7.2M non-equity incentives, $111,910 change in pension value, and $439,456 in other compensation. The “other” category includes $339,779 for personal use of of the company aircraft. Time Warner Cable shares lost 2.8% of their value in 2011. Britt made nearly twice as much as COO Robert Marcus. But his $8.4M compensation was up 38.7% to reflect his additional title last year as company president and “the importance of retaining him in light of the Board of Directors’ long-term succession planning strategy.” Britt’s compensation was 3.8 times higher than the average for Time Warner Cable’s other top executives. Corporate governance watchdogs usually consider that to be lopsided, and a red flag for investors.

Comments (1)

Moguls Are “In Denial” About Poverty, Time Warner Cable CEO Says

By | Thursday March 1, 2012 @ 10:18am PST

Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt may be the most prominent media exec making this important point: ”Our whole (entertainment) ecosystem should try to create affordability,” he told investors today at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. “A lot of the people who are living paycheck to paycheck want our product, but simply can’t afford it. Many entertainment executives are in denial about this, but it’s happening.” Big Media ignores that fact at its peril: The vast majority of the industry’s profits come from cable networks — but the chief of the No. 2 cable company says that the pay TV business “is fundamentally not growing.” Programmers and networks have ignored that: “What they’re trying to do is grow by raising prices” on companies like Time Warner Cable, Britt says. That may work for a while, but “it clearly is not sustainable.” One of his strategies to deal with that is offering TV Essentials — a low-cost package of channels that doesn’t include costly sports services led by ESPN as well as popular networks such as TNT, Comedy Central, Fox News and MSNBC. “We’re clearly moving away from one size fits all,” Britt says. Read More »

Comments (15)

Time Warner Cable And Madison Square Garden Resolve Carriage Impasse

UPDATE, 3:18 PM: MSG just issued a statement saying that it has “a tentative agreement” with Time Warner Cable to carry MSG, MSG+ and Fuse “effective immediately.” The company thanked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and NBA Commissioner David Stern. MSG also says that it’s “committed to providing our fans with award-winning programming that continues to warrant their loyalty and allegiance, and we thank them for their patience.” Schneiderman is claiming credit for having “worked diligently with Time Warner Cable and MSG Networks over the last month to bring about a resolution to their dispute.”

PREVIOUS, 1:40 PM: We’ve confirmed that Time Warner Cable will have MSG on for tonight’s game. The No. 2 operator also has agreed to keep carrying Fuse, MSG’s low-rated music channel. MSG would have lost $10M a year in revenue if Time Warner Cable had dropped the channel. But Mike Angus, Time Warner Cable’s SVP Content Acquisition, said in December that fewer than one-tenth of Fuse’s potential viewers tuned in — making MSG’s effort to package it with its popular sports networks “nothing more than a tax on New York sports fans.” 

PREVIOUS, 12:54 PM: New York basketball fans, and owners of Madison Square Garden stock, can rejoice. The 48-day contract dispute that kept regional sports channel MSG off of Time Warner Cable is over — with final terms expected before the New York Knicks’ game tonight with … Read More »

Comments (6)

Time Warner Cable Announces $4B Share Repurchase And A Dividend Hike

By | Thursday January 26, 2012 @ 4:08am PST

This morning’s news could shift Time Warner Cable shares out of neutral. In addition to the stock buyback and 17% dividend increase, to 56 cents a share per quarter, the No. 2 cable company reported strong 4Q earnings based mostly on growing broadband sales. The company generated $564M in net income, up 43.9% vs the last quarter in 2010, on revenues of nearly $5B, up 4%. The revenue figure matched analyst expectations. Earnings excluding unusual items, at $1.39 a share, beat the $1.20 that the Street forecast. Time Warner Cable also attracted more subs than many analysts anticipated, even though it lost 129,000 video customers dropping the total to 11.89M. That was offset by a 117,000 increase in broadband customers, to nearly 10M, and 37,000 additional phone customers, to 4.5M. The results follow a 12-month period during which Time Warner Cable shares only appreciated 2.7% — due in part to investor concerns that pay TV companies will be squeezed by rising programming costs and consumer cord cutting. But CEO Glenn Britt says that he has “a full slate of strategic and operational initiatives planned for the year ahead, all designed to generate strong cash flow, enable future growth and provide attractive returns to shareholders.” He added that the stock repurchase and dividend increase illustrate that Time Warner Cable can provide investors with cash even as “we continue to invest in the long-term growth of our business.”

Comments (0)