& cplSiteName &

Comcast Breaks Video Sub Skid

Alan Breznick
1/28/2014
50%
50%

Who cares about Time Warner Cable when you're adding video customers again?

Brushing aside press reports that it's negotiating with Charter Communications Inc. to divvy up Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)'s cable systems, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) reported Tuesday morning that it gained 43,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter. That marks the first time in nearly seven years that Comcast has added video customers in a quarter, ending a losing streak of 26 quarters. (See Comcast May Join Charter Team.)

Even with the fourth-quarter gain, Comcast lost 305,000 video customers for the year, continuing its annual downward trend to a total of 21.7 million. But that's still a 10% improvement; the company lost 336,000 video customers in 2012 and even more in prior years.

Delighted with the results, Comcast executives said they see a video turnaround gathering steam. They said the MSO improved its video results despite increased competition in its footprint from such fiber-fed telco services as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s U-verse.

"I think it'll take a while before we go positive for the year," Comcast Cable president and CEO Neil Smit said during an upbeat earnings call with financial analysts. "But we think we'll be competing well on both the fiber side and the satellite side."

As part of the video turnaround strategy, Comcast is counting heavily on its next-gen IP video platform, X1. With the cloud-based programming guide and user interface now rolled out throughout its footprint, the MSO is accelerating plans to offer X1 and later versions to more than half its video customers over the next few years. Currently, X1's availability is limited to triple-play subscribers and a few double-play subscribers.

"We're very pleased with the early customer feedback" on X1, Comcast vice chairman and CFO Michael Angelakis said during the call. Citing various company metrics, he and Smit said X1 subscribers are purchasing notably more video-on-demand titles and watching more on-demand programming than other video customers. They are signing up for DVR service and triple-play bundles more frequently than other video subs, and they are cutting the video cord less often.

Comcast officials are also speeding up plans to upgrade the growing X1 customer base to the more advanced X2 guide through a software download. Smit said all X1 customers will soon receive the software upgrade to X2, which enables more personalized search and navigation capabilities. (See Comcast Gears Up for X2 Push.)

Smit also confirmed press reports that Comcast is talking to Cox Communications Inc. about licensing the X1 guide to Cox for its use. Smit said the two companies are "exploring opportunities" for Cox to use components of X1 in its own next-gen programming guide.

Comcast officials have been seeking to offer a white-label version of X1 to other cable operators for a while. On the company's last earnings call in late October, Smit said a number of MSOs (which he would not name) had expressed interest in the idea. (See Comcast Spreads IP Video Love.)

Despite shedding more than 300,000 video subscribers for the year, Comcast reported video revenue increases because of across-the-board price hikes for video subscriptions and increased uptake of advanced services like HDTV and DVR. Video revenue rose 2.3% for the quarter to $5.1 billion and 2.9% for the year to $20.5 billion. Fourth-quarter monthly revenue per video sub climbed 6.8% from a year earlier to $164.

With 44% of video customers subscribing to three services (versus 40% previously), Comcast executives said they will keep the emphasis on generating more revenue from their best customers. "Going forward, we're very focused on high-value subscribers," Smit said.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
1/30/2014 | 11:23:41 PM
Break out the champagne
So they're breaking out the champagne in downtown Philly over this news. And it is a big deal. Now the question is whether it's a fluke or the beginning of a longer-term trend. Much will depend on the success of X1, X2, and their brethren. Are you betting for or against Comcast on this one?   
Featured Video
From The Founder
The 'gleaming city on a hill,' Steve Saunders calls it. But who is going to take us from today's NFV componentry to the grand future of a self-driving network? Here's a look at the vendors hoping to make it happen.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue – London
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Why Amazon May Be Cable's Biggest Threat
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/22/2017
Could 5G Have Found Its Glass Ceiling?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/20/2017
Can Fixed Wireless Fix Rural Broadband?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/25/2017
1 Million Pirate Set-Top Boxes Sold in the UK
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 9/20/2017
Comcast Shuts Down OTT Again
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/19/2017
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed