Cable Operators

Roberts: Comcast ‘Modestly Grew’ Q4 Video Subs

Tells Conference Crowd First Positive Quarterly Video Sub Showing Since 2007 1/07/2014 2:14 PM Eastern

Building on the momentum over the past several years where it has significantly curbed its basic video losses, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the nation’s largest cable operator crossed “modestly” into positive video subscriber growth territory in the fourth quarter.

While official results are not expected until Jan. 28, Roberts told the audience at the Citigroup Internet, Media & Telecommunications conference in Las Vegas Tuesday that Comcast “modestly grew” basic video customers in the fourth quarter. It was the first quarterly gain in video customers for the operator since 2007

“It will take some time before the entire year will grow,” Roberts said. “But it is a real beginning of an exciting reversal of trends. We had a profitable quarter, as we had throughout the year, so it’s encouraging.”

Roberts alluded that the gain was in part due to the MSO’s advances in TV Everywhere, and its X1 platform, which provides customers with a more user-friendly guide. He said that Comcast plans to accelerate the rollout of the X-1 – which currently has about 1 million users – and the next generation X2 to more than half of its footprint in the next few years.

Analysts had been expecting cable operators to reverse video losses for the past two years, fueled in part by Comcast’s improved performance.

“It has been a long time coming, but it speaks to the steady hard work that Comcast has put into their video product,” MoffettNathanson principal and senior analyst Craig Moffett said. “We thought we might see the first positive quarter nearly two years ago but household formation has been slower than we expected coming out of the recession, so Comcast faced an even steeper uphill climb than we have anticipated.  It is a tremendous testament to the team at Comcast that they have finally pulled this off.”