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Comcast ‘Comfortable in Our Own Footprint’

Comcast will concentrate on the accelerated rollout of X1, its next-gen video platform, and keep its video plans focused on the MSO’s traditional footprint.

“We feel very comfortable in our own footprint...We'll be focusing there,” Neil Smit, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, said Monday on the company’s first quarter earnings call when asked about the operator’s interest in developing an over-the-top video service.

And much of that video focus will remain on X1, which accounted for nearly half of video connects in a first quarter in which Comcast lost about 8,000 basic video subscribers.

Smit said X1 is seeing a 20% to 30% lower churn rate than subs on Comcast’s legacy video platform, and that VOD usage among X1 customers is 20% to 30% higher.

“Right now, getting X1 rolled out is still the best opportunity at the company in the short run,” Brian Roberts, Comcast Corp.’s chairman and CEO, said.

Comcast has not announced how many customers are on its X1 platform. Last fall, the company said it had deployed more than 5 million X1 boxes so far. Based on the MSO's earlier estimation that it was shipping about 20,000 X1 boxes per day, Comcast should have more than 9 million X1 devices deployed now.

With more than 25% of Comcast’s triple-play customers currently on X1, that translates to at least an estimated 2.49 million customers with X1, MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said in a research note issued Monday, adding that Comcast has also opened up access to X1 to non-triple-play customers.

“Their X1 platform remains at the center of their success,” Moffett said.

Comcast has been lowering the “upgrade fee” of X1, another move that should also help to accelerate the deployment of the new platform. 

On the wireless side, Smit said Comcast’s WiFi footprint (a mix of deployments in public and business locations and in home-side routers) now covers about 8.6 million hotspots.

“We’re still working on our wireless strategy and how that will manifest itself,” Smit said, noting that Comcast has MVNO deals in place with Sprint and Verizon Wireless.

Smit said Comcast now has more than 500,000 customers on Xfinity Home, the MSO’s home security and automation service. “That business is really starting to catch on,” he said.