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Comcast Chairman: Video Subs Grew in Fourth Quarter

7 Jan, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

No. 1 cabler reports first quarterly video subscriber growth in more than six years

Comcast Cable will report modest gains in video subscribers in the fourth quarter — the first quarterly gain in more than six years, Comcast chairman Brian Roberts told an investor group.

While not disclosing the number of new video subscribers generated through Dec. 31, No. 1 cabler Comcast has for years also been near the top of the industry in video sub losses — including nearly 350,000 through the first three months of 2013.

Speaking Jan. 7 at the Citi, Internet, Media & Telecommunications confab in Las Vegas, Roberts pegged the turnaround on continued rollout of Comcast’s broadband-based X1 platform combined with tweaks in the conventional bundled pay-TV offering.

Indeed, Comcast has begun rolling out a lower-cost ($40) bundled service channel package that includes its proprietary Streampix SVOD service, in addition to HBO, HBO Go and 20 basic channels. Dubbed “Internet Plus,” the 12-month promotion includes cloud-based VOD functionality, and 25Mbps high-speed Internet access.

“Ten of the last 12 quarters we have been improving on prior year’s [video subscriber tallies],” Roberts said. “We feel like the investments in all-digital, the investments in customer service has been chipping away at [video sub losses]. It will take some time for the whole year to grow [video subs], but it is a real beginning of an exciting reversal of trends.”

Roberts said Comcast’s recent launch of electronic sellthrough of movies — a first for the cable industry — paid dividends when the cabler was the No. 1 EST vendor over the Thanksgiving weekend with Despicable Me 2, Fast & Furious 6 and The Hunger Games.

A component of Comcast’s Xfinity on Demand platform, the digital sellthrough platform features movies from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

“On-demand viewing, we’re selling new things. We haven’t even scratched the surface,” Roberts said.

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