Comcast California region senior vice president Hank Fore sees the looming threat of online video every day. Literally.
“I’ve got Google in my backyard, Intel in my backyard, everybody is jumping into the fray here,” Fore said in an interview last month. “I tell them [competitors] to bring it. We’re here to dance.”
As the head of one of Comcast’s biggest divisions, Fore oversees a region with about 2 million subscribers encompassing communities as diverse as San Francisco and more rural areas in the Central Valley and Northern California.
But even though California has been one of the top systems in the Comcast fold for years in terms of total subscribers, it has consistently been in the middle as far as operations among top Comcast systems.
That’s changing this year: After years of consistently placing tenth, eleventh or twelfth among Comcast’s 16 regions, California this year is running at No. 2, with an eye on first place, based on its performance measured by 32 separate metrics ranging from financials targets to meeting customer-service goals.
Fore credited several factors for the improvement, including a razor-sharp employee focus on the business, customer-service improvements and new products.
On the product front, the difference has been Comcast’s latest cloud-based user interface, the X-1.
X-1, unveiled in March at The Cable Show in Washington D.C., is an Internet-protocol platform that includes among its features a cloud-based interface, supports third-party apps from Facebook and Pandora, sports and weather widgets, and a voice-controlled search app.
Comcast launched the X-1 platform in California in November, requiring that customers with the cloud-based service also subscribe to the MSO’s triple-play package of video, voice and data.
“We have probably 100,000 customers brought on since November and probably [deployed] about 200,000 boxes in people’s homes with that product,” Fore said. “All of them are triple-play customers. Our sell-in on triple play is 14 points higher than it was last year. All because of the X1.”
Fore also predicts that with the X1 — and its X2 upgrade slated for next year, which will add a cloud-based digital video recorder — he expects video subscriber growth, which had been negative along with the overall industry trend, could be flat by 2014. While the cloud platform will go a long way toward achieving that goal, Fore said, ongoing customer-service initiatives should help seal the deal.
All that should help Fore achieve a goal he has set for his employees this year — taking the No. 1 spot among Comcast regions.
“Our rallying cry this year is “Non-stop to the top.’ ”