Comcast’s X1 Makes it to Michigan

Comcast’s IP-capable, next-gen X1 video platform has landed in Michigan, getting the MSO one step closer to completing the bulk of its deployment by the end of 2013.

Comcast has deployed X1, which features a cloud-based guide, to about 53% of its footprint, cable unit president and CEO Neil Smit said Wednesday on the company’s second quarter earnings call, noting that the platform has produced a 20% spike in VOD views (when compared to VOD performance on the legacy platform) and is boosting subscriptions to premium services.

He said it’s too early to determine X1’s effect on churn, “but I think there might be some favorable trends there.” Comcast lost 159,000 video customers in the second quarter, an improvement over the 176,000 it lost in the year-ago period.

At this juncture, Comcast is marketing X1 to new triple play subscribers. It ended the second quarter with 21.77 million video subs and 53.49 million homes and businesses passed.

X1 currently runs on the Pace-made XG1 hybrid QAM/IP HD-DVR and the RNG150N, a non-DVR HD client set-top. Comcast and its partners are also working on a “headless” gateway called the XG5 and an all-IP HD client called the Xi3 that will also run the X1, as well as the coming, upgraded X2 interface, which will also run on PCs, tablets and smartphones.   

On the call,  Comcast execs were asked if the MSO had figured out a way to accelerate the rollout of its advanced user interface. Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said “we don’t have a perfect answer” for that yet. “We are looking at a whole lot of ideas around that question all the time, and we will probably experiment with a few.”

Notably, Comcast is working with ActiveVideo in Chattanooga, Tenn., to test an advanced VOD interface originally written in HTML5 running on QAM-based boxes. In June,  ActiveVideo demonstrated how its cloud-based platform could stitch the X1 into an MPEG video stream so it could run on boxes that don’t speak IP, including the ancient Motorola DCT2000. ActiveVideo also showed X1 running on a Roku box and an connected TV.

Comcast launched X1 earlier this week in Utah and Minneapolis/St. Paul, and recently completed its deployment in New England. It’s also been launched in systems serving Maryland; Delaware; Boston; Colorado; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Illinois; northwest Indiana; southwest Michigan; Independence, Mo.; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Philadelphia; New Jersey; and California.