Charter CEO: ‘Genre-Based Video Packaging the Way to Go’

With Charter Communications recently edging ahead of Comcast as the nation’s largest cable TV operator with more than 14.12 million subscribers, the Spectrum-branded service is aiming to target consumers with a one-stop linear/streaming video platform to reduce churn.

Chris Winfrey

Charter, which last year partnered with Comcast to launch Xumo, a one-stop cloud-based platform melding linear TV with ad-supported VOD and SVOD, also turned the legacy pay-TV industry on its ear by extracting direct Disney+ and ESPN+ streaming access for Spectrum TV subscribers.

“Making ESPN+ available to our TV Select Plus customers allows us to cater to sports fans’ evolving viewing habits with one high-value video package that includes the best of linear and direct-to-consumer sports content,” Charter said earlier this year in a statement.

Speaking last week at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Charter CEO Chris Winfrey was asked about the pending joint venture sports streaming app between Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery, and its impact on media distribution.

“What I interpreted from the announcement is that three of the largest programmers decided that genre-based packaging is the way to go — and when I look at that from a distributor standpoint, I actually agree with that,” Winfrey said.

The executive said that affording pay-TV subs with genre-based packaging, allowing for a-la-carte access to programming is “very consumer-friendly.”

Specifically, Xumo offers Spectrum subscribers the ability to integrate linear TV with SVOD and AVOD apps, including Disney+ and ESPN+, within an authenticated desktop modem, with unified search and discovery. The platform enables Charter to create programming packages with lower pricing distributed direct-to-consumer or as unified package offering.

“We can carry the direct-to-consumer apps … and we can package it all together with Xumo in a way that provides utility to our connectivity services,” Winfrey said. “We’re happy to distribute direct-to-consumer streaming video apps and we’re doing that as part of these [new carriage] deals.”

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Charter Communications Names Chris Winfrey as New CEO, Replacing Tom Rutledge Who is Retiring After 50-Year Career

Charter Communications Sept. 21 announced that Chris Winfrey has been named president and CEO, effective Dec. 1. Winfrey most recently served as COO after more than a decade as the cabler’s CFO. As CEO, Winfrey will report to board of directors. 

Tom Rutledge

Current CEO Tom Rutledge, who announced his plans to retire as CEO after a 50-year career, beginning as a technician in 1972 while in college, will serve as executive chairman through the end of his contract in November 2023. Rutledge will maintain oversight of Charter’s government affairs during that time and provide his guidance to ensure a smooth and successful transition. 

Rutledge helped grow Charter to a pay-TV, broadband and telecom operator with more than 30 million subscribers. He grew the company both organically and through transformative acquisitions, which included Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Optimum West (Bresnan).

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to lead Charter and this incredible team over the past 10 years,” Rutledge said in a statement. “We have grown the company through innovation and strategic investments and have positioned Charter to provide the best converged connectivity products and services available today.”

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Chris Winfrey

Winfrey joined Charter as CFO in 2010, added oversight of Spectrum Enterprise in 2019, and operational leadership of the residential and SMB sales and marketing organization, and Spectrum Community Solutions in 2021. Later in 2021, he was named COO. 

Prior to joining Charter, Winfrey served as CFO, and as managing director for cable operations, broadcasting and satellite entities at Unitymedia GmbH, Germany’s second-largest cable operator. Earlier in his career, Winfrey served as SVP of corporate finance and development at Cablecom, GmbH. He was previously a director of financial planning and analysis and director of operations services of NTL Incorporated’s continental European operations, and a senior associate in the private equity group at Communications Equity Associates. He has spent nearly 25 years in the cable industry, and in 2015 received The Internet & Television Association’s (NCTA) Vanguard Award for Young Leadership.