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Comcast ‘surprised’ by Netflix and CBS jumping ship for online distribution says - EVP Stephen Burke

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By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

October 25, 2014 | 3 min read

Comcast's executive vice president Stephen Burke has admitted the broadcasting-giant was caught off-guard when HBO and CBS announced they were launching exclusive streaming sites.

HBO and CBS have jumped Comcast's ship

The statement came during the third quarter results meeting after HBO and CBS announced they will be effectively cutting out the satellite TV middle-men.

Earlier this month, HBO, said it will offer consumers to option of subscribing to an exclusive streaming site - to open up its programming, including Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, to viewers incapable of paying for satellite TV packages.

By making its content less expensive, HBO hoped more people would pay for access, especially after the season four finale of Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV episode ever.

Several days later. CBS also announced a new streaming service, although its offering is arguably less attractive than HBO’s.

In response to the move, Stephen Burke, executive vice president of Comcast, said, according to Seeking Alpha: “Regarding HBO and CBS selling directly I was surprised, I was surprised by both of them for different reasons.

“CBS has been such a defender of retransmission consent in the traditional ecosystem and been so successful in the broadcast business. HBO surprised me because I think it is going to be such a challenge for them to not cannibalise what is already a really good business.”

Burke added: “We are still early on in the transition to internet television that I think we are going to see a lot of surprising things. I don’t think distributing directly to consumers be the internet is an easy thing to do and I think it’s a voyage that if you are successful like Netflix can be a way to create a lot of value but it’s not an easy thing to do.”

Comcast already takes a share of programming revenue from Hulu, Netflix and Amazon as the firm owns NBC.

Notably, despite being the world's most successful content streaming site, Netflix earlier this month issued a profits warning after performing poorer than expected in the third quarter.

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