Comcast's Roberts: 'We have more video customers today than we did a year ago'
While it wasn't technically among the group of top cable operators who reported full-year video subscriber growth for 2015, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is in fact growing its pay-TV base again.
"We have more video customers today than we did a year ago," said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Media, Technology and Telecom Conference.
Despite adding 89,000 pay-TV customers in the fourth quarter, Comcast finished 2015 about 36,000 video subs in the red, while both Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) reported narrow gains.
But after losing 8,000 video subs in the first quarter of 2015, Roberts' implication is that investors can expect solid customer growth reports when Comcast releases its next Q1 report in in the spring.
"This is the first time we could make that [full-year growth] statement in over a decade," he said. "It's not that the competition is lessening. Maybe competitors have matured and they've cycled around themselves."
As he has often done recently, Roberts credited Comcast's migration to the cloud-based X1 platform for transforming the MSO's customer experience to be more competitive with satellite and telco operators.
He said X1 is now in 35 percent of Comcast customer homes, with the aim of hitting 50 percent later this year. "All of it changed when we moved into the cloud, which is hard for satellite to do," Roberts said.
Comcast has succeeded, Roberts added, in a 10-year quest to migrate copious amounts of content into the cloud, where consumers can access it on multiple devices.
"I hear people say all the time that TV Everywhere is not working. About 35 percent of our customers, 7.5 million of them, have our [multiscreen app] and use it many times a month."
The next product evolution for X1, Roberts added, is making it more easily searchable. To that end, he noted that 5 million Xfinity Voice Remotes have been deployed since the MSO first introduced the product last May. "That's the fastest deployment we've ever had," Roberts said.
Speaking about myriad Comcast business, Roberts was asked once again if his company will use its extensive Wi-Fi buildout to compete in the wireless business.
Briefly addressing the issue, he noted Comcast's MVNO deal with Verizon (NYSE: VZ).
"We're looking forward to plugging that up seeing if we can provide more value to customers in bundles," Roberts said.
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