Thursday, July 26, 2018

How Comcast and AT&T Strategies Compare

It would not be stretching an analogy to say that, in the U.S. market, Comcast and AT&T have broadly similar strategies. Both are the most clearly committed to diversifying their roles within the internet and content ecosystems, and particularly focusing on ownership of content creation assets.

In its second quarter, for example, Comcast earned about half its revenue from consumer triple-play services, its “legacy.”

In its second quarter, AT&T earned perhaps $29 billion from traditional mobile and fixed communication services, about 75 percent of total revenue.

Roughly 25 percent of revenue was contributed by the video distribution and partial results of Warner Media for the second quarter. So it speaks volumes that AT&T now says it is a “modern media company.”

One has to suppose that the goal is to shift as much as half of revenue from voice, mobile communications or even internet access to content ownership and content distribution.

It is worth noting that in the consumer services segment (exclusive of consumer mobility), about 71 percent of AT&T segment revenues now come from video entertainment, not voice or internet access.

The point is that content and related assets now are viewed as key by both Comcast and AT&T, essentially as a means to occupy different roles within the content and communications ecosystem.

And, eventually, the revenue profiles of Comcast and AT&T might not be too dissimilar. Where Comcast is diversifying away from its legacy video services position, AT&T is increasing its exposure in those areas.

Where business services and mobility are significant revenue contributors for AT&T, Comcast is growing in those segments. And where Comcast is a content creation company, so AT&T now is a content company, in part.

That fundamental "take market share from the other guy" strategy has not changed too much over the last two decades. Basically, telcos upgraded to broadband to trade market share with the cable competitors. Cable has grown by taking telco voice and internet access share in the consumer segment, and now is encroaching on business customer share.

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