Glenn Britt, an architect of the modern pay-television industry, is stepping down as chairman and chief executive of Time Warner Cable at the end of the year.
Succeeding Britt is Robert Marcus, the longtime No. 2 executive at Time Warner Cable, which is the largest pay-TV provider in Los Angeles and New York City. Overall, Time Warner Cable has 12 million subscribers across the nation.
In an interview, Britt, 64, recalled that when he joined the business, there was a lot of doubt about its potential.
“The transformation that this industry has led has been pretty dramatic,” he said, adding that back when he started “there were dreams of offering television people would pay for,” but most were “very skeptical about that."
The shift in leadership at Time Warner Cable comes at a time of great change in the media landscape. Not only have cable operators been losing video customers to satellite television and telephone companies, but younger consumers are increasingly opting to go without any pay-TV service.
At the same time, content costs have been rising for companies such as Time Warner Cable, leading for calls in some sectors of the industry and on Wall Street for greater consolidation in the industry. Larger distributors can use their size to cut more favorable deals with programmers.
“The notion that things are changing is not new to our business,” said Marcus, 48, who has served as president and chief operating officer of Time Warner Cable since 2010. He noted that even if some consumers prefer services such as Netflix instead of a traditional pay-TV provider, “they need a robust high speed data pipe.”
On the topic of consolidation, Marcus acknowledged there can be advantages to getting bigger, but any transaction has to be of value to the cable company’s shareholders. He and Britt declined to comment on recent approaches made by the smaller cable operator Charter Communications about a merger.
Although Time Warner Cable is primarily a distributor of video and broadband, as of late it has made its own forays into the content business. In Los Angeles, it acquired the television rights to the Lakers and launched both an English- and Spanish-language channel. It also will create a new channel for the Los Angeles Dodgers that will debut next season.
Marcus was also named to the Time Warner Cable board as part of his new appointment.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.