Recently Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) announced the launch of LIFT labs for Entrepreneurs – a start-up accelerator for media, entertainment and connectivity start-ups. The first lab under this program will open in Philadelphia and the company is looking to expand the program to Atlanta next year. The media industry is in a transformative phase, as streaming media and live videos on social media take center stage, threatening the traditional cable TV industry. Comcast has been ahead of competitors in adapting to this changing landscape, and is looking at its “Leveraging Innovation For Tomorrow” (LIFT) program to stay ahead of competition in this industry via innovation. Other media giants such as Time Warner and Walt Disney already have their own accelerator programs; for Comcast, this accelerator – along with its venture fund, Comcast Ventures – should help the company effectively tap entrepreneurial talent in the industry.
Comcast is looking at several ways to adapt to the future of television. The company recently invested in social media player Snap’s IPO, and over the past 18 months has made nearly $1.5 billion in digital investments, including its investment in Buzzfeed. Its accelerator program appears to be an extension of these initiatives, as the company looks for opportunities it can tap and ways to improve its content consumption amid changing consumer preferences. Cable TV players are losing subscribers due to these changing preferences, and social media platforms are becoming a significant destination for video content. However, we actually expect Comcast to see marginal growth in subscribers over our forecast period, primarily due to its advanced products such as the X1 platform.
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The company has been adapting quickly to the new environment and is providing consumers an option to stream cable TV content through the X1 platform, along with several convenient and multi-entertainment features. This innovation has helped Comcast stem subscriber declines to an extent despite the massive threat of cord-cutting, and the company is now looking to further its innovation initiatives. While accelerator programs are certainly not always successful, this launch is an indication of Comcast’s focus on future technologies and products to build and retain a competitive edge.