While fees play a part in Comcast’s decision to licensing its X1 video platform to other MSOs including Cox Communications and Canada’s Shaw Communications, the white-labeling of platform has a number of other benefits, according to Marcien Jenckes, executive VP of consumer services for Comcast Cable.
“When we first thought about doing it we had selfish motivations. It really had nothing to do with licensing fees,” Jenckes said Tuesday, speaking at Nomura’s 2016 Media, Telecom & Internet Conference.
“We serve a lot of markets in the U.S., but we don’t serve New York or Los Angeles — places where the media lives,” he added. “We were mainly looking for other outlets for X1, so people in those markets could experience a next-generation video platform. The idea is to make the technology available so it can be consumed everywhere — to raise all boats.”
Licensing X1 also gives Comcast scale when deploying new technologies on the platform, Jenckes said.
“We’re making a lot of investments in advanced advertising, for example,” he noted. “Licensing X1 extends those abilities to other distributors, whether we’re working in collaboration with them or just enabling them. We’re creating a marketplace to monetize content where we might not otherwise have one.”
Jenckes also cited electronic sell-through of movies as another business that can be scaled by partnering with other MSOs that license X1.
Speaking broadly about the platform, he said ratings for the ongoing Rio Olympic Games are 19 percent higher in Comcast homes — a factor he attributed to the feature-rich X1 viewing environment.
Jenckes said many of the X1 viewing features rolled out for the Olympics, including ones that let viewers keep track of medal counts and read athlete bios, will show up this fall during NBC Sports coverage of college football and the NFL.
“We use moments like the Olympics in order to innovate and create new formulas that pull everything together,” he said. “We wouldn’t put a whole bunch of work in for just two weeks in August.”
Meanwhile, Jenckes was also asked about Comcast’s entry into the wireless business. He gave what has become a pretty typical noncommittal response for the company.
“If we are able to chart the right path, figure out the right way of doing it, I think you'll see us do some interesting things, but we are still in the process of evaluating that,” he said.