When he addressed the second annual MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in mid-May he was more in celebratory about the company's most recent quarter than he was conciliatory about what might have been. He kicked off his speech by talking about what drove the company's recent strong results.
"It's the power of subscriptions," he said telling the crowd that his father had been in the men's belts business but changed to cable because he liked the recurring revenue. It was Comcast's belief in that model which led to its attempt to buy TWC. "We're moving on, but we did like the cable business or we wouldn't have tried to buy more cable."
Roberts said that the company planned to take all of the energy it would have put into integrating and focus it on growing its existing business. He told the crowd how some of that energy will be spent.
An investment in technology
Roberts said he was most excited about the company's new voice remote which allows users to change channels and control their television via voice commands.
"We just bought six million of these and we will give them away like Chiclets ... that's for this year alone," he said. "All of our best customers going forward, anyone who wants one. ... Once you get hooked on it, it's a magical moment."
Because the remote is powered by the cloud, Roberts said its potential goes well beyond changing channels. He gave the example of saying "watch Forrest Gump" and then, once he movie is on, using a voice command to ask Tom Hanks' age or even to dim the lights in the room.
Roberts believe that the cloud will be a huge part of the company's future and it unlocks all sorts of opportunities.
Comcast wants a more open platform
"While we have a fantastic design team now in house designing thermostats, lighting control, and locks, we also announced that Lutron, Nest, and August Locks are all going to be partners of ours," he said.
That means Comcast customers will be able to use their Xfinity home app to control those products. "We can be the company that brings you whatever you want to do in and out of your house," Roberts added.
Doing this, he explained, is also a way of improving the company's service and improve the customer experience. By being more open the company will allow Comcast customers to use non-Comcast services, which should lead to a happier user base.
Deals are still possible
Though the Time Warner Cable deal was shot down at least partially because it would give Comcast control over too many cable subscribers, that does not preclude the company from making smaller deals. Roberts told the crowd that one of the regulators told him that "every deal is unique" and he should not draw any conclusions off of this one being denied.
But just because a deal might be allowed, does not mean that company will make one just to make one.
"I don't feel the need to see us rush out and do something," he said.
Cord cutting is not a problem, yet
Roberts acknowledged that the company had lost some cable subscribers but pointed out that the numbers for the last quarter were small -- 22,000 lost out of 22 million. He said that Comcast did not have its "head in the sand," but that it was not seeing a problem with cord cutting yet.
"Do we actually think that there's massive cord cutting going on? No," he said. "I think the numbers don't suggest that."
Roberts said it was important for the company to be realistic to have its products attract audiences on different platforms beyond saying "just watch TV," he added.
The CEO explained that the company needs to go where the consumer wants to go no matter how painful that transition is.
"If the consumer wants to have a fantastic video experience over the Internet, hopefully we will be the company they choose to have that with," he said.
Daniel Kline owns shares of Apple. He has no interest in talking to his remote. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.