Comcast’s licensed X1 producing mixed churn results for Cox, Shaw early on

Shaw BlueSky TV
Shaw Communications' BlueSky TV.

At least in the early phase of its respective deployments, the white-label version of Comcast’s X1 video platform has produced mixed results in terms of becoming the same kind of churn-reversing engine that it’s been for the cable company that developed it. 

Privately held Cox Communications said that its iteration of X1, which it calls Contour, has been available across its footprint for the past year, and that approximately 25% of its video users have the platform. 

However, according to an estimate by Leichtman Research Group, Cox lost 30,000 pay-TV subscribers in the second quarter, flat with the year-ago period. Cox would not release any data in regard to possible churn improvements.

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In June, Canada’s Shaw Communications attributed an improvement in pay-TV customer metrics during its fiscal third quarter to BlueSky TV, its version of X1. The company added 13,000 customers to its consumer cable video ranks, the first time it experienced growth in that area since 2010.

“BlueSky is more than just a new set-top box or voice remote. BlueSky TV is a revolutionary TV viewing experience that listens, learns, and curates preferred content through an intuitive and modern interface leveraging the power of voice,” said Shaw CEO Brad Shaw during a call with investors. (Transcript provided by Seeking Alpha.)

Research company Boon Dog Professional Services said Canada’s publicly traded pay-TV operators lost 22% fewer customers in the first half of 2017, an improvement it attributed almost entirely to BluSky TV’s deployment across Shaw’s footprint. (LightReading reported on the Boon Dog data.) Canada’s Rogers Communications has also licensed X1, but has yet to conduct a rollout. 

For its part, Comcast grew its video ranks by 161,000 users in 2016, the first year it reported growth in over a decade. The operator has attributed the turnaround to its constantly updated X1 platform, which it says is now in 50% of its pay-TV customer homes. 

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