Comcast Revving Up X1 Rollout

Now Shipping 30,000 X1 Boxes Per Day
X1 box  400x300.jpg

Impressed by X1’s continued ability to reduce customer churn while increasing VOD usage, DVR adoption and the desire for additional outlets, Comcast has ramped up deployment to about 30,000 boxes per day, up from previous daily run-rates of between15,000 to 20,000.

“We continue to believe X1 is…absolutely a game-changer,” Comcast CEO and chairman Brian Roberts said on the company’s second quarter earnings call. Comcast reduced video sub losses to 69,000 in the typically tough second quarter.

“We’re pushing to be even faster” than 30,000 X1 boxes per day Roberts said. Comcast is also making its new voice remote standard for X1, and expects to ship 6 million of them this year.

X1 subs are up 10% from the first quarter of 2015, and up 35% from Q2 of last  year. Nearly one-third of Comcast’s triple-play subs are on X1; Comcast is also offering X1 to double-play subs.

Roberts also talked up Comcast’s X1 licensing activities, which have resulted in trials with Cox Communications and Shaw Communications. “A number of other companies are expressing interest,” he said, noting later that Comcast is using the X1’s cloud platform to amp up its customer service and experience efforts.

Neil Smit, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, said the MSO is seeing 30% less voluntary churn from customers who are on X1, noting that it’s helping Comcast sign on better quality customers and retaining them for longer.

While X1 represents Comcast’s core next-gen video product,  Stream, Comcast’s new $15 per month, IP-delivered product for millennials, also was a hot topic on the call.

Stream, Roberts said, is an extension of X1 and Comcast’s new Xfinity On Campus service, and will help Comcast a way to keep customers on a video product while also providing an upgrade path to other services.

Stream, Smit added, is an example of how cloud-based technology is allowing Comcast to innovate at a faster rate and target specific segments.

Given Stream's limited target, Roberts doesn't see Stream making a huge dent in the overall video mix. "It's not something you're going to see meaningful results from in the near future," he acknowledged. 

He also stressed that Comcast did not have to pay any additional rights for Stream, which will feature in-home access to live broadcast TV feeds, a cloud DVR and access to some VOD content, and initially be offered on Web browsers, smartphones and tablets. Because Stream won’t be an “over-the-top” service but will be a Title 6 product, Stream is covered under the MSO’s existing contracts, Smit explained 

Comcast plans to test Stream in Boston by the end of the summer, follow with trials in Chicago and Seattle, and expand to other markets by early 2016.

On the broadband side of the business, Comcast plans to start DOCSIS 3.1 market trials in the fourth quarter of this year, getting the MSO closer to deployment of cable’s multi-gigabit platform for its widely deployed HFC network.

Smit also reiterated that Comcast has no plans to expand the MSO’s current usage-based broadband trials on a broad basis anytime soon. 

Comcast  has deployed more than 10 million WiFi hotspots through a mix of deployments in public outdoor and indoor venues, at business locations and in “homespots” in customer wireless routers that emit a separate “XfinityWiFi” signal.