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经济学人:康卡斯特的未来 跳出机顶盒定式

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Business

商业报道
Comcast's future
康卡斯特的未来
Thinking outside the set-top box
跳出机顶盒定式
America's largest cable company is becoming more like the firms it is battling against for the attention of couch potatoes
美国最大的电信公司越来越像在为赢得电视迷而战
WHEN Comcast, America's largest cable operator, took a stake in NBCUniversal in 2009, 30 Rock, a popular NBCU comedy, wove the deal into its plot.
2009年,美国最大的有线电视公司康卡斯特收购了环球影视,后者旗下的情景喜剧《我为喜剧狂》随后便将这一交易加入剧情。

The programme's characters came under the thumb of a new corporate parent, Kabletown, which introduced innovations like moving customer services to a part ofIndia with no phones in order to provide the same level of service at zero cost.

其情节为片中人物所在公司被名为Kabletown的母公司收购,Kabletown发起了一个向还未进入电话通信时代的印度市场的开拓项目,目的是以零成本向印度用户提供相同水平的服务。
Comcast employees can take a joke. Last month, at a gathering to celebrate Comcast's 50th anniversary, they showed a clip of the show, to the amusement of the firm's real employees.
康卡斯特的员工们可以此自娱,在上个月公司50周年庆典上,有人播放了这一情节,藉此娱乐公司的真正员工。
A sense of humour is a sign of confidence.
幽默是自信的表现。
Thanks to the 28 billion it spent to acquire NBCU, Comcast is the world's largest media firm, with a market capitalisation of around 128 billion.
出资280亿美元收购环球影视,康卡斯特也成了市值近1280亿美元的全球最大媒体公司。
NBCU gave Comcast control of a range of new content, including broadcast and cable networks, aHollywoodstudio and a theme-park business.
环球影视将旗下一系列的节目交给了康卡斯特,包括广播、有线网络、一个好莱坞摄影室及一座主题公园。
Comcast is also America's most powerful media business, because it controls what people watch and the pipes that deliver it.
同时,康卡斯特也是美国最具影响力的媒体公司,因为它掌控着人们的收视导向及传播渠道。
In its efforts to retain that position it is having to adapt to the new ways that people want to watch TV and consume entertainment that smaller rivals are pioneering.
人们希望以全新的方式看电视、消遣娱乐,稍小的媒体公司正主导着这一趋势,为了保住优势,康卡斯特也在进行新的尝试。
The cable business has changed dramatically since Ralph Roberts purchased a small cable system inMississippiin 1963.
自1963年拉尔夫?罗伯特在密西西比收购一家小型有线电视系统以来,康卡斯特的有线业务便发生了翻天覆地的变化。
Today his son, Brian, runs a firm operating in a vast and mature business; nearly 86% of American households subscribe to pay-TV.
现如今,子承父业的布莱恩掌管着一家规模更大、业务更成熟的公司:康卡斯特占据着美国付费电视业务近86%的市场份额。
This has forced Comcast and other cable firms to increase revenues by raising prices rather than by chasing new viewers.
这也使得康卡斯特及其他有线电视公司通过增加收费,而非拓展新用户的方式来实现增收。
But not every viewer will tolerate high prices.
但是,并非所有用户都能容忍高价。
The proportion of households with pay-TV has fallen slightly since 2010 as some have cut the cord.
2010年以来,付费电视用户比例已出现小幅下滑现象,部分用户已经减掉线缆。
Comcast now has 21.6m subscribers, 1.6% fewer than a year ago.
现在,康卡斯特的有线电视用户为2160万,比去年低1.6个百分点。
As well as cord-cutters Comcast and other cable providers must defend their turf from a pack of new entrants.
除了减掉有线电视的用户外,康卡斯特及其他有线电视运营商还需要面临新的竞争,
These include telecoms firms such as Verizon and AT&T, which offer pay-TV and fast broadband, and firms that stream video over the internet, such as Netflix and Amazon.
其中包括像威瑞森及AT&T这样的电信巨头提供的付费电视、高速宽带业务,还有奈飞、亚马逊公司在网络上提供的流媒体视频。
These companies have not killed cable, but they have helped to shape the way people want to watch programmes: increasingly, on mobile devices and at a time of their choosing.
这些公司尚未将有线电视逼上绝路。但却已经改变了人们观看节目的渠道,奈飞公司在年轻人中间很受欢迎。
Netflix is popular with the young. Around 20% of households headed by people under 25 do not have a television but watch programmes on other devices, such as laptops and tablets.
25岁以下年轻人组建的家庭中大约20%没有电视机,他们通过笔记本、平板电脑等其他设备收看电视节目。
If Netflix were a cable channel, its subscription revenues in 2013 would put it third inAmerica behind ESPN and HBO, according to MoffettNathanson, a research firm.
根据一家名为MoffettNathanson的调查公司提供的数据显示,如果奈飞是一家有线电视台,其2013年的订购收入可紧跟ESPN、HBO,位居第三。
Comcast has responded by trying to resemble the firms that could unseat it, offering more interactivity, personalisation and portability.
对于那些威胁到自己的竞争对手,康卡斯特的应对策略是向用户提供互动性更强、更具人性化、更加便携化的服务。
Television is going to change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50, says Brian Roberts.
布莱恩?罗伯茨表示:电视在未来五年的变化会比过去五十年的变化还大。
Comcast executives talk about apps for the television and rolling out innovations every three to six months.
此外,他还谈到了电视应用及每三到六个月便会更新的问题。
The firm is paying particular attention to its user interface, or what, until recently, was called a TV guide.
康卡斯特非常注意用户界面的设计,或者最近被称之为电视指南的东西。
Comcast's is now arranged not numerically by channel, but alphabetically by programme, by network and type of content.
现在,康卡斯特并不是按照数字排列频道,而是按照字母顺序、网络和内容分类。
Couch potatoes even less inclined to effort can download an app to their iPhone and shout commands at it to locate shows.
电视迷可以不假思索便可将应用下载到自己的iPhone,并可通过语音找到相应节目。
Comcast's new set-top box is cloud-based, adding to the potential for flexibility: films and programmes stored in the cloud can be watched on any device.
康卡斯特的新机顶盒云基站为用户提供了更为灵活的选择:
It tracks viewing history and recommends programmes accordingly, much like Netflix.
存储在云基站的电影或节目可以在任何设备上观看,同奈飞相似的是该设备还会根据观看历史推荐相关节目。
Comcast has made it easier for TV-watchers to find their way to full seasons of episodes that are available on-demand so people can binge on shows.
康卡斯特让电视观众更容易找到电视上供点播的整部电视剧,这样用户便可尽情享受节目了。
Other pay-TV providers are experimenting with new features, and some have approached Comcast to license its technology.
其他的付费电视供应商正试用一些新特性,部分已经接近康卡斯特,获得技术许可。
One popular idea is TV Everywhere, which makes it possible for pay-TV subscribers to watch live and on-demand programmes on their mobile devices wherever they like.
在那些新特性中,电视无处不在的理念比较流行,该创意可让订购付费电视的用户随时随地观看直播、或者点播节目。
It has started slowly but is taking off as more content-owners agree to license the digital rights to their programmes.
这一设想虽然进展缓慢,但已经起步,越来越多的节目供应商同意向相关运营商颁发数字权限。
Tools like this may help Comcast and its rivals justify their high prices and convince people to stick with their television package.
这样的功能也让用户觉得康卡斯特及其竞争对手的高收费物有所值,也让人们有理由继续使用他们提供的电视程序。
Giving customers more products to keep them around for longer is an old tactic.
为了长久留住顾客,向他们提供更多产品是一个老套的策略。
Cable companies have long offered bundles of broadband, television and phone line.
有线电视公司很早便开始想用户提供宽带、电视、电话三线合一的服务,
Comcast is going much further with its home-services business, which includes alarm systems, baby monitoring and temperature control.
而康卡斯特准备进一步综合家庭服务,该服务将涵盖报警系统、婴儿监视器及温度控制。
And it is bringing in partners.
康卡斯特还同其他公司展开合作,
In October Comcast teamed up with Twitter to allow its subscribers to find or record programmes that are being tweeted about.
10月康卡斯特同推特强强联手,他们推出了一项可以让订购其电视节目的用户查找、记录推特用户推文中的节目。
Like its competitors it is also testing smaller, cheaper packages of television channels and broadband, to appeal to cost-conscious youngsters.
同其竞争对手一样,康卡斯特也在测试更小、更为廉价的电视频道和宽带节目,以迎合节约的年轻群体。
The greatest change for Comcast is the reorientation of its business towards broadband.
康卡斯特最大的变化非宽带业务再定位莫属,
By next year Comcast may well have more subscribers to its broadband services than for television.
明年康卡斯特宽带服务用户或许会超过其电视服务用户。
Those who eschew pay-TV will still need an internet package, and cable could pick up customers from satellite operators, whose internet speeds are slower.
那些抛弃付费电视的用户仍旧需要使用网络,有线网络可以从卫星运营商那里抢回部分用户,毕竟后者的网速更慢。
Ironically content going to the internet gives cable companies that monopoly power back to a certain extent,
巴克莱银行的分析师康南·文卡特斯瓦尔表示:极具讽刺意味的是转入网络的节目让有线电视公司可以在一定程度上进行垄断,
because you don't have competition in broadband to the extent you have it in video, says Kannan Venkateshwar of Barclays, a bank. Comcast and other cable companies are experimenting more with usage-based pricing, charging more for heavy data consumption.
因为他们在宽带业务方面没了竞争对手,而在视频方面却有了。康卡斯特及其他有线电视公司正越来越多的尝试基于使用的付费方式,使用数据更多的用户需要支付更多费用。
Mr Roberts has always had big ambitions and an appetite for deals.
罗伯特总是雄心勃勃、扩张欲望强烈。
In 2004, two years after he became boss of Comcast, he launched an unsuccessful 66 billion hostile bid for Disney.
2004年,罗伯特接任康卡斯特两年后便发起了对迪斯尼的恶意收购,但并未能如愿。
The deal with NBCU pushed Comcast to a new level in size and clout, at a time when most media companies were slimming down to focus on what they did best.
收购环球影视时正值大部分媒体公司缩小规模、聚力做精之际,完成收购后康卡斯特的规模及影响力达到了更高的水平。
Time Warner, a content firm, has spun off Time Warner Cable; next year it will do the same with Time Inc, its magazines business.
其竞争对手时代华纳公司出售了时代华纳有线公司,明年还会出售做杂志业务的时代出版集团。
The hunger games
饥饿游戏
Even Comcast's few critics acknowledge that the firm secured an excellent price and favourable terms for NBCU. The rationale was that adding content would provide a hedge to Comcast's core cable business.
即便康卡斯特没有人批评公司收购环球影视,毕竟这笔交易价格合理、条件有利,但关键在于继续收购会为康卡斯特的核心业务,即有线电视业务产生不利影响。
But few feel that there have been any significant benefits from content and distribution sharing a parent.
但是,没有人注意到共享一个母公司的两家子公司在业务内容及资源分配上会产生积极的作用。
I would be just as happy if they had not bought NBCU, says one Comcast shareholder.
康卡斯特的一位股东说道:很高兴他们收购了环球影视公司。
He might be happier to hear rumours that Comcast has hired a bank to advise it on a possible bid for TWC,America's second-biggest cable operator.
如果听到了康卡斯特已经聘请某银行,估算竞标美国第二大有线电视运营商,即时代华纳有限公司可行性的谣言,他可能会更高兴。
This would give Comcast 34% of the American market. Scale can help cable firms compete with rival pay-TV services, and give more leverage in negotiations with content-providers, which continue to raise the cost of carrying their programmes.
如果竞标成功,康卡斯特将会占据美国有线电视市场34%的份额,规模化效益有利于康卡斯特同其他付费电视公司竞争,并且还能增加同节目供应商谈判的筹码,后者仍在为自己的产品加价。
That's why Liberty Global, a rival cable company, has its eye on TWC too.
这也是其竞争对手自有媒体公司同样有意竞标时代华纳有线公司的原因,自有媒体还投资了Charter通讯公司,后者也有意同时代华纳有线公司合并。
It has taken a stake in Charter, another cable operator keen to merge with TWC. Comcast is saying nothing about a deal, and some ask whether regulators would even allow it.
康卡斯特对于此次交易只字未提,有人会问监管部门是否会运行这笔收购。
30 Rock has already concluded its final season.
《我为喜剧狂》已经完季,
Who will mock Comcast, if Kabletown becomes Kablecountry?
谁来继续借此调侃自娱呢?如果Kabletown扩张成为Kablecountry,
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