Video services

Rogers Nets 100K X1-Based Video Subs in Q1, but Pay-TV Base Declines

Rogers Communications is making progress with a new IP-based video product based on Comcast's X1 platform, but, so far, the rollout has not helped the Canadian cable operator rein in pay-TV subscriber losses.

Rogers recently crossed 100,000 customers on Ignite TV, a multiscreen video service that comes way of an X1 syndication deal with Comcast. But even with that milestone, that total is small when compared to Rogers's total video sub base of 1.65 million.

"We're seeing some very good results already with respect to Ignite TV," Joe Natale, Rogers's president and CEO, said April 18 on the company's Q1 earnings call. "We're seeing major reduction in churn and we're seeing Net Promoter Scores improve substantially."

Rogers began to deploy Ignite TV last June, following trials with employees. Despite the availably of Ignite TV, which also integrates select OTT offerings such as Netflix alongside its own pay-TV service, Rogers lost 28,000 video subs in Q1 2019, compared to losses of 12,000 in the year-ago period. Rogers ended Q1 with 1.65 million video subs, so just 6% of that base has been moved to the new, more capable platform.

"We are making steady progress on Ignite TV," Natale said, but acknowledged that the deployment still "has [a] ways to go."

Natale said Ignite TV has driven results that fall outside the baseline subscriber numbers, noting that feedback from migrating customers has been positive. He also noted that Rogers is seeing lower levels of churn and higher average revenues per account among its relatively small base of Ignite TV customers.

Rogers is working to make Ignite a platform that also manages in-home broadband and IoT services, much as Comcast is doing with its xFi platform. "Ignite TV is just the beginning," Natale said. "Ignite TV will deliver a road map that not only connects, monitors and secures everything in the home... Ignite is about managing the whole-home ecosystem."

Cox Communications and two other Canadian MSOs -- Shaw Communications and Videotron -- have X1 syndication deals with Comcast, which recently introduced a "Flex" product that is targeted to broadband-only subs that uses X1 as well as xFi, Comcast's home networking management platform.

Rogers ended the quarter with 2.44 million high-speed Internet subs after adding 14,000 in the quarter, down from 26,000 adds in the year-ago period.

Natale attributed the slowdown in part to sluggish new housing formation in Canada. "There's a little bit of dampening on the housing starts front," he said. "We're still very happy with the fact that we continue to grow Internet penetration."

Rogers's total Q1 cable revenues climbed 1%, to $976 million. Cable Internet revenues climbed 7%, to $541 million, while video revenues dipped 2%, to $357 million and cable phone revenues dropped 21%, to $76 million.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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