Shaw ‘On Track’ For Full-Footprint Rollout of X1

Shaw Communications CEO Brad Shaw said the MSO is “on track and on budget” with a plan to deploy Comcast’s X1 platform across the Canadian MSO’s footprint throughout fiscal 2017.

Shaw, whose fiscal 2016 year ended August 31, is syndicating Comcast’s X1 platform, with its first implementation being a TV Everywhere app called FreeRange TV that was introduced in January.

The next step is to bring an X1-powered experience to the set-top box.

RELATED: Cox Inks National X1 Deal with Comcast 

Shaw is currently trialing X1 in some select homes, and expects to have it launched “in at least one market in calendar 2016,” Shaw said.

“It's certainly on time and on budget and we couldn't be more delighted in our progress,” he said Wednesday on the company's fiscal Q4 call. 

As for X1-related costs (for the app and home rollouts), Shaw pegged it at about $75 million ($25 million in opex and $50 million in capex), and $75 million again in FY 2017, with the opex and capex numbers reversed.

The X1 rollout is one of three initiatives tied to $1.3 billion in capital spending Shaw is releasing for its 2017 fiscal year.

That includes Shaw’s rollout of DOCSIS 3.1, which will enable gigabit-class high-speed Internet services, and an LTE buildout to Shaw’s major and medium-sized communities.

“DOCSIS 3.1 will be available to the vast majority of customer homes by the end of F17,” Shaw said, noting that this network readiness plan includes elements such as node splits and a  move to a “fiber deep” architecture, and conversions to CCAP (converged cable access platform).

“2016 was a transformative year and represents a very deliberate pivot in the strategic direction for Shaw towards long-term sustainable growth,” the exec said in sizing up the going-forward plan.

Shaw also addressed the demise of Shomi, the multiscreen SVOD service joint venture with Rogers Communications that will wind-down operations on November 30.

RELATED: Shomi to Shut Down on Nov. 30

In fiscal 2015 and 2016 Shaw recognized total equity losses of $108 million tied to Shomi, and an additional $51 million impairment in Q3 of FY 2016. Shaw said the operator expects to incur additional costs in relation to the wind-down of up to $120 million. 

Shaw lost 22,171 residential cable video subs in Q3, ending the period with 1.67 million. Shaw lost 93,464 cable video subs for all of fiscal 2016, narrowed slightly from a loss of 102,781 subs in the prior fiscal year.

Shaw also shed 6,332 satellite TV subs in fiscal Q4, giving it 790,574.

The operator also added 10,341 high-speed Internet subs, expanding to 1.79 million, but lost 18,942 phone customers.

Shaw, which closed its acquisition of Wind Mobile in March, added almost 40,000 wireless subs, expanding that total to 1.04 million.

Revenue for the quarter rose 15.5%, to $1.31 billion, while net income dipped 44.2%, to $154 million.