Light Reading

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?   
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Last week I dropped in on "Hotlanta," Georgia to moderate Light Reading's inaugural DroneComm conference – a unique colloquium investigating the potential for drone communications to disrupt the world's telecom ecosystem. As you will see, it was a day of exploration and epiphany...
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Emmons: SDN Key to Cost-Effective Scaling

5|22|15   |   03:53   |   (0) comments


For Verizon and other network operators to ramp up available bandwidth cost effectively, they need to move to SDN and agree on how to do that.
LRTV Documentaries
Lack of Universal SDN a Challenge

5|21|15   |   04:51   |   (3) comments


Heavy Reading Analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how uncertainty about SDN standards and approaches may be slowing deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Steve Vogelsang Interview: Carrier SDN

5|20|15   |   05:02   |   (0) comments


Sterling Perrin speaks to Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, about the new Carrier SDN-enabling Network Services Platform and the operator challenges it solves.
LRTV Custom TV
Carrier SDN: On-Demand Networks for an On-Demand World

5|20|15   |   20:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, talks about requirements and benefits of Carrier SDN during the keynote address at the Light Reading Carrier SDN event May 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
The Security Challenge of SDN

5|19|15   |   02:52   |   (0) comments


CenturyLink VP James Feger discusses concerns that virtualization could create new vulnerabilities unless network operators build in safeguards.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Elasticity – Highly Available VNF Scale-Out Architectures for the Mobile Edge

5|18|15   |   5:50   |   (0) comments


Peter Marek and Paul Stevens from Advantech Networks and Communications Group talk about their NFV Elasticity initiative and the company's latest platforms for deploying virtual network functions at the edge of the network. Packetarium XL and the new Versatile Server Module: 'designed to reach parts of the network that other servers cannot reach.'
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bay Area Spark Meetup 2015

5|14|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Developed in 2009, Apache Spark is a powerful open source processing engine built around speed, ease of use and sophisticated analytics. This spring, Huawei hosted a meetup for Spark developers and data scientists in Santa Clara, California. Light Reading spoke with organizers and attendees about Huawei's code contributions and long-term commitment to Spark.
LRTV Custom TV
The Transport SDN Buzz

5|12|15   |   06:01   |   (1) comment


Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, speaks with Peter Ashwood-Smith of Huawei and Guru Parulkar of ON.Lab about the evolution of transport SDN and the integration of technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
LRTV Custom TV
DOCSIS 3.1: Transforming Cable From Hardware-Defined Network to Software-Defined Network

4|29|15   |   03:48   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 can transform cable HFC network to a more agile software-defined network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Predicting Traffic Patterns for Quality Mobile Broadband

4|29|15   |   6:45   |   (0) comments


Accessing information ubiquitously creates complexity and creates heavy traffic onto the network, especially at large-scale events like sporting events or festivals. In this video, Huawei's Mohammad Hussain speaks to experts about how to predict traffic and improve user experience during periods of heavy traffic.
Upcoming Live Events
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Network functions virtualization (NFV) is not the easiest of topics to take on board, so here's a Light Reading infographic, developed following conversations with the folks at HP, that helps make sense of where NFV is taking the industry.
Hot Topics
AT&T Testing Virtualized GPON
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 5/15/2015
Choosing a Technology Supplier? Consider Changing Your Selection Criteria
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 5/18/2015
Verizon Saves 60% Swapping Copper for Fiber
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 5/19/2015
Chattanooga Charts Killer Gigabit Apps
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/20/2015
Smarter 'Dumb' TVs Will Drive OTT Adoption
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/18/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With 200 customers in 60 countries, Stockholm-based Net Insight has carved out a solid leadership position in one of the hottest vertical markets going in comms right now: helping service providers and broadcasters deliver video and other multimedia traffic over IP networks. How has Net Insight managed to achieve this success in the face of immense competition from the industry giants?
My ongoing interview tour of the leading minds of the telecom industry recently took me to Richardson, Texas, where I met with Rod Naphan, CTO and SVP, Solutions, ...
I recently popped down to Texas to chat with CEO Eric L. Pratt about his company, Taqua.
Cats with Phones