Rogers will soft-launch X1 in Q1, begin employee trials next month

Comcast X1 remote
Comcast's X1 Voice Remote.

Canada’s Rogers Communications said it will launch its licensed version of Comcast’s X1 video platform in the first quarter of 2018.

Disclosing the launch plans during its third-quarter earnings call last week, the cable operator also said it will begin trials of the platform with 1,000 employees in November. 

"We’re going to really work hard to iron out what I believe at this point will largely be process issues, order issues et cetera, plus anything else on the platform side through the course of that trial,” said Rogers CEO Joe Natale. 

“And then we’ll have in late Q1 right now as the plan a soft commercial launch—a soft commercial launch, meaning we’ll kind of open up the universe of customers to a broader set of employees and also a portion of our customer base with really the goal of hardening our capabilities in further,” Natale added. 

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

Rogers scuttled plans to develop its own IPTV video system last year, so it licensed Comcast’s X1 platform. Other major Canadian cable operators, Shaw Communications and Videotron, are also licensing the technology. 

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.

In the U.S., Cox Communications said last month that it had surpassed 1 million subscribers for its version of the licensed X1 platform, which it calls Contour.