Comcast reduced its loss of television subscribers to 4,000 in the second quarter of 2016, its best performance for this quarter in over a decade. It ended the first half of the year with 22.40 million cable television customers, which is 90,000 more than it had a year before.
The loss of 4,000 television subscribers in the second quarter compares to a loss of 69,000 in the same period the previous year and 144,000 the year before that. It is its best result for the seasonally weak second quarter for over a decade.
Despite consistently losing subscribers in the second quarter, Comcast has been steadily reducing the decline and has generally managed to sustain its television subscriber numbers. It ended June 2016 with 22.40 million subscribers, which is just 129,000 fewer than it had five years previously, according to the informitv Multiscreen Index.
Comcast reported that its X1 next-generation box is now in nearly four out of ten of its subscriber homes, up from less than a third a year previously. It is aiming for 50% penetration by the end of the year. Comcast has previously announced that Netflix will be integrated on the X1 platform.
The company says that it has reduced television customer churn for 29 consecutive months.
Video revenue increased 2.8% to $5.6 billion in the quarter. Overall cable revenue was up 6% to $12.4 billion, with total revenue per customer relationship up by 3% to $148 per month.
The number of broadband subscribers was up 220,000, its best result for the second quarter in eight years. Comcast has 23.99 million high-speed internet customers. Its broadband subscriber base passed its television customer number at the start of 2015.
Chief executive Brian Roberts told analysts: “In what is normally a negative seasonal quarter, we lost only 4,000 video customers, the best second quarter result we have had in over ten years. On a trailing 12-month basis we have now added about 90,000 video customers, a remarkable improvement in the face of significant competitive and technological change and a testament to the investments we’ve made in our platform and breadth of content.”
NBC, which is owned by Comcast, will carry almost 6,800 hours of coverage of the Olympic Games from Rio. He said: “The best way to experience Rio will be on the X1 platform. For the first time, we have built a destination that will combine live television, online streaming and on- demand content, athlete profiles and up-to-the-minute stats in one integrated NBC Olympics dashboard.”
Neil Smit, the chief executive of Comcast Cable, said the integration of Netflix on the X1 platform “gives us the ability to be an aggregator of aggregators”. He said: “We had tossed around the decision for a while, but really it came down to what’s best for the customer”. However, he said that “we haven’t seen an OTT model that really is very profitable for us and we think that the bundle is still the best value.” So far Comcast says it is not inclined to roll out an online service nationally outside its cable footprint.