Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, announced a deal to acquire the second-largest cable company, Time Warner, for $US159 per share.
If the deal is approved by regulators, Roberts will be running a massive cable empire. Combined, Comcast and Time Warner will have 30 million subscribers. The next closest pay TV competitor is DirecTV, which has 20 million. The next closest cable competitor is Cox, which has 4.6 million.
And that’s just the video side of the deal. Comcast will become the biggest broadband Internet provider outside of China.
So, who is Brian Roberts?
Roberts’ father, Ralph, founded Comcast in 1963 when he bought American Cable Systems, a 1,200-subscriber cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi. In 1969, he moved the company to Philadelphia.
Brian first interned for Comcast when he was 15 and helped out on supermarket promotions. He attended University of Pennsylvania’s business school, Wharton where he was a Zeta Psi fraternity brother. He became Comcast’s president in 1990 and CEO in 2002.
Roberts, an All-American squash player, is known as an aggressive deal maker. In 2001, Roberts helped Comcast acquire AT&T Broadband in a deal valued at $US72 billion. Three years later, Roberts led a failed effort to take over Disney for $US66 billion. In 2011, Comcast paid $US30 billion for 51% of NBC. Two years later it bought the rest for $US16.7 billion.
He’s also led an expansion of Comcast in its hometown of Philadelphia. Comcast is currently planning a 59-story, $US1.2 billion skyscraper in center city. When completed in 2017, it will be the 8th biggest building in the U.S.
Roberts’ aggressive moves put Comcast in a good position for the future even though the TV market is in flux. (Subscriptions to pay TV are flat, if not declining.) Comcast will control Internet, pay-TV, and original programming through NBC. Whatever comes next for TV, Comcast will have major influence over it.
So, what is next for TV? Here’s Roberts’ vision: “I believe television will change more in the next five years than in the last 50. This will be really great for consumers. At Comcast we hope to help shape this future with the innovation we are driving through technology and our smart people. We are going to have a suite of products that you subscribe to — television, high-speed Internet, phone, home security, energy management, maybe even health care — and we are going to have many customers that are going to buy those products directly from us. So the way we are managing the company is to aggressively improve every one of our products while at the same time keeping our eye on maintaining a state-of-the-art network that powers everything we do.”
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