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Brian Roberts: 30% of Comcast X1 Users Stream Netflix

27 Feb, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Comcast has offered direct access to Netflix for about 90 days. But in that short time, more than 30% of the cable operator’s X1 subscribers — which represents 50% of Comcast households — use the subscription streaming service, Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts told an investor group.

Comcast Cable ended 2016 with 22.5 million video subscribers.

Speaking Feb. 27 at Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, Roberts said Netflix adoption and on-demand video usage in January was up about 35% from the previous-year period.

“That’s an incredible quick take rate for something [Netflix] barely advertised,” he said.

The CEO said Comcast is upselling Netflix subscription and taking “advantage” of that relationship. “And it’s stable and working and people love it.”

He said that as video distribution continues to change “all the time” across all segments, including on college campuses and across the country — rollout of the cloud-based X1 set-top has been a “game-changer,” enabling Comcast to become an “aggregator of aggregators.”

Comcast projects X1 penetration to reach 60% of households by the end of 2017.

Indeed, the cable operator earlier in the day announced it would offer direct access to YouTube on X1. While the social video behemoth generates an astounding 1 billion video views daily around the world, Roberts eyes it as an ancillary option to traditional cable TV.

“We have 13 million [X1] voice-remotes; we’re changing the way people interface with television,” Roberts said, adding that by integrating the YouTube app enables subscribers to enhance their TV viewing experience.

Using NBC’s reality show, “The Voice” as an example, Roberts demonstrated recalling current episodes and related content on YouTube using the X1’s voice-controlled remote.

“We now have lots of curated ‘Voice’ episodes … to promote more viewership for the upcoming new season,” he said.

The executive said embracing technological advances along with new online platforms translates into one less cable subscriber not renewing (or churning).

Comcast has pivoted to a few key principles, namely enhancing the user interface with content, regardless if it is competitive, to create “one-stop shopping” for cable subscribers, according to Roberts.

“In every one of our [product] categories, churn has gone down,” he said.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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