Cable Drives Comcast Q1

Comcast reported its lowest basic-subscriber losses in almost four years in the first quarter, the result of efforts to drive innovation and improve customer services, company executives said Wednesday.

Overall, consolidated revenue increased 31.8% to $12.1 billion, and consolidated operating cash flow was up 14.1% to $4.1 billion, largely driven by strong performance at its cable systems.

On the programming side, Comcast said it would spend $200 million this year on NBC's primetime line-up.

Comcast surprised analysts with stronger than expected performance on several subscriber fronts. It lost just 39,000 basic-video customers in the period, the lowest since the first quarter of 2007, and high-speed Internet additions, at 418,000 in the quarter, were above industry trends. But on a conference call Wednesday to discuss results, Neil Smit, Comcast Cable Communications president, said the reason for the improved performance was simple: better products, better service and better marketing.

Smit pointed to the nation's largest MSO's efforts to drive innovation by releasing at least one new product per quarter, strides made on the customer service front to reduce the total number of service calls, and marketing programs like its "Endless Fun" campaign, which Smit said helped spur a double-digit increase in customers' intent to purchase in the first quarter.

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