Comcast reported its highest quarterly gains in video subscribers for eight years. The leading cable company in the United States added 89,000 television subscribers in the last quarter of 2015. That compares to a loss of 125,000 over the previous three quarters and a modest gain of 7,000 in the same quarter the prior year. Comcast ended the year with 22.35 million television subscribers, which is 36,000 less than at the beginning of 2015.
Brian Roberts, the chairman and chief executive Comcast, said: “our focus on delivering the most innovative products and improving the customer experience led to fantastic operating metrics, including our best video customer results in nine years”.
Comcast changed the way it counted video customers from 2014, making previous comparisons difficult. Nine years ago, Comcast had 24.16 million video customers. Comcast has only gained television customers in four quarters since July 2007.
Customer relationships increased by 281,000 to 27.7 million during the fourth quarter of 2015, driven by increases in double product and triple product relationships. Video customer net additions of 89,000 were the best result for a quarter in eight years, high-speed Internet customer net additions of 460,000 were the best result for a fourth quarter in nine years, and Voice customer net additions improved to 139,000.
Year on year, video customer net losses of 36,000 improved by 81.7% and were the best result in nine years.
Michael Cavanagh, the chief financial officer of Comcast, attributed the improved performance to reduced customer churn, reflecting a focus on support, customer segmentation and new products and services.
Comcast continues to roll out its X1 box to customers, adding 1.1 million in the quarter. X1 customers now represent around 30% of the total video subscriber base. He added: “We’re putting out 40,000 boxes a day which, if you do the rough math, it’ll get us in the range of 50% of the footprint covered by the end of the year.”
Comcast is also extending its on-demand and TV Everywhere offering. “We now have 75,000 shows on demand, 700 full season stacked series, which is up 50% from a year ago, and 98 live streaming channels available outside the home,” he said.
Despite industry interest in so-called ‘skinny bundles’ or lower cost packages, “they are actually a small percentage of our overall video customer base,” he said. “In the fourth quarter, 75% of our video adds were the higher end packages. So I don’t want to overstate the significance of skinny bundles.”