Culminating a big rebound year for cable video services, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) added 89,000 pay-TV customers in the fourth quarter, its best quarterly performance in the category in nine years.
The additions compare to 6,000 net video customer adds in the fourth quarter of 2014. For the year, the biggest MSO in the U.S. narrowed its video losses to only 36,000 customers.
The vastly improved metrics followed Time Warner Cable's (NYSE: TWC) report that it had gained video subscribers for a full year for the first time since before the great recession. For years, big cable companies like Comcast and TWC hemorrhaged video customers as more advanced video products from satellite and telco operators, as well as over-the-top options, consumed market share.
But as the 240,000 lost video customers in the fourth quarter reported for AT&T's U-verse platform shows, the tide has turned.
As he has for several quarters, Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit attributed the improvement to improved customer service, advanced video products like Comcast's X1 platform and better segmenting of the market across new products like the IP-only Xfinity on Campus.
"We're giving customers the products they want at the right price, servicing them well and retaining them longer," Smit said.
Comcast also added 460,000 broadband customers in the fourth quarter -- also its best quarterly performance in nine years -- compared to 375,000 in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The X1 platform is now in 30 percent of Comcast's footprint, with the company expecting 50 percent penetration by the end of the year.
The MSO said that "first-call resolution" of customer issues improved by 10 percent in the quarter, with repeat tech visits declining 7 percent.
For the quarter, cable communications revenue rose 5.9 percent to $11.98 billion. With divisions like Universal Pictures also having one of their best years ever, consolidated revenue increased overall for Comcast by 8.5 percent.
Down the road, Comcast executives said they will participate in the upcoming incentive auction. Smit also said that Comcast is looking at "hand-off" technology for its 13.3 million Wi-Fi hotspots as it continues to explore entry into the wireless business.
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