Roberts: Video Sub Growth Is Comcast's Mission


Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts told an audience at an investment conference Friday that it is on a "mission" toward reporting positive basic video customer growth, adding that recent new product developments were made with that goal in mind.

Comcast has been the top performing MSO in terms of improving its basic video customer losses -- it has lost fewer video subscribers in each of the past six straight quarters -- and hopes to move toward positive growth. While Roberts wouldn't say when he expects that to happen, he added that it will happen eventually.

"The mission internally is to get back to positive video [subscriber growth], and in a number of markets that has happened," Roberts said at the Sanford Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York. "...Hopefully, we are talking about when, not if. I believe without a doubt we have the best video experience out there."

Comcast has been on a roll in the past few years, averaging at least one new product rollout per quarter during that time. While in the early stages many of those new products were focused on IPad applications and TV Everywhere, the latest new releases have centered on the video experience.

At last month's 2012 Cable Show in Boston, Comcast unveiled its X-1 interactive programming guide. The X-1 guide debuted in the Boston market last month -- Roberts said it would make its way to a "number of markets this year -- and is eventually expected to integrate its suite of products, including home security, Internet, voice mail and energy management functions, to name a few.

While Comcast has been humming along nicely on the innovation front, Roberts said the MSO also has made big strides in customer service. Data points: 90% of all service call are now handled in a two-hour window, with a 97% on-time rate; the company has had 8 million fewer truck rolls in the past two years; revenue generating units have risen by 2.5 million and 28% of new customers now self-install products vs. 13% a year ago.

This month Roberts said Comcast is launching mobile bill-paying functionality, which allows customers to pay their monthly bills from their smartphones. And later this year, with its new Dashboard interface, customers will be able to troubleshoot and fix service outages.

"Those are a little bit in the weeds, but the kind of things that get me excited and focused," because they further differentiate the Comcast experience from competitors' offerings.