Comcast launches X1 in Atlanta; reports 65% increase in Q2 cable self-installs

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) launched its X1 next generation digital video platform in Atlanta this week, and will expand the rollout to "hundreds of thousands of subscribers" in five major markets by the end of the year, CEO Brian Roberts said Wednesday on the company's second-quarter earnings call.

Brian Roberts, ComcastMichael Angelakis

(Left to right) Roberts and Angelakis

The X1 deployment in Atlanta could help Comcast stave off competition from AT&T's (NYSE: T) U-verse TV. Comcast developed X1 at its cable system in Augusta, Georgia, and launched it commercially last month in Boston.

Comcast has seen a 10 percent rise in sales and marketing expenses for new  products such as Xfinity Home, Signature Support and Streampix. CFO Michael Angelakis said the company has been able to offset some costs by encouraging subscribers to install new products themselves.

Comcast saw self-installations increase by 65 percent during the second quarter, and Angelakis said the MSO has reduced truck rolls by more than 8 million during the last years while adding a total of 2.8 million phone, Internet and video customers.

Comcast expects that 30 percent of its installations will be handled by customers this year, Angelakis said. About 25 percent of the MSO's subscribers manage their accounts online, and it expects to generate "1 billion self-service transactions" this year, including customers using its website to pay their bills and schedule appointments, he addded. 

Also worth noting from Comcast's earnings call:

  • NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke said the record ratings NBCU is generating from its coverage of the Summer Olympics in London will help he company blow away its sales goals for the year, noting that it was already $100 million ahead of its ad-sales goal before the Olympics began last week. "We think London will be right around break even. We thought there was a time when we would lose $200 million on London," Burke added.
  • Roberts, speaking from London, said Comcast expects that it will receive FCC and Department of Justice approval of its spectrum and commercial marketing agreements with Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) during the third quarter, or early in the fourth quarter.
  • Comcast, which counts about 65,000 subscribers in the Kansas City area, said it's not clear how the Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) deployment of Google Fiber TV and its 1 Gps high-speed Internet service could impact the company. "It kind of seems like a bit of a laboratory," Roberts noted, adding that the applications Google may develop in Kansas City could help Comcast by driving demand for broadband. "We're constantly hoping that new applications and needs develop," Roberts said. "If Google can be part of making that happen -- it's part of what I think they're doing, but I don't know for sure," he added.

For more:
- see the earnings release

Special Report: Cable in the second quarter of 2012

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