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Smit: Factors Leading to Subscriber Improvements Sustainable

Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit said the company's strong fourth quarter subscriber performance was a combination of sustainable efforts across all lines of the business, but stopped short of predicting when the cable giant will cross into positive video customer growth.

Comcast lost just 17,000 video customers in the fourth quarter (compared to a loss of 135,000 in the prior year), significantly less than analysts' expectations. For the full year, Comcast lost 460,000 video customers for the full year, 40% fewer than in 2010.

Smit, speaking at the Deutsche Bank Media & Telecom conference in Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday, said the improved performance was the result of several factors, including a sharp decline in the level of telco overbuilds in the period from 2.5 million in 2010 to 1.1 million in 2011. But the main catalysts weren't one-time gains, but sustainable measures such as launching new products (16 in 2011, more than the previous two years combined), improved customer service (Comcast reduced truck rolls by 2 million and calls to its service agents by 8 million in the year), and improved marketing.

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