Comcast loses 135,000 subs in Q4, will focus on growing Xfinity, customer retention

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) said it lost 135,000 more video customers in the fourth quarter, a total of 757,000 for the year, but saw revenue for the quarter grow 7.2 percent to $9.72 billion, beating Wall Street's expectation of $9.58 billion. Comcast noted that the subscriber loss for the quarter was less than the 199,000 it lost in 4Q2009, suggesting the impact of the digital transition "is now behind us."

The MSO, the nation's largest, also said it added 292,000 Internet subscribers for the quarter, more than one million for the year. Those additions, CEO Brian Roberts said during this mornings earnings call, bode well for the continued expansion of its Xfinity online effort.

Much of the growth in online has been tied to Apple's (Nasdaq: APPL) iPad, he said. Since launching in November, iPad users have downloaded Comcast's Xfinity app more than one million times, and he said he expects that number to increase as Comcast rolls out live programming to the iPad this year.

Xfinity is now available in 84 percent of the company's footprint and awareness of Xfinity now exceeds 90 percent.

Roberts also said the operator was talking with its providers and expected customers to have "more access on more platforms and more choices" of programming as the year went on.

As for the role Xfinity would play, Roberts said the service is available to customers at the low- and high-end of Comcast's business.

"I expect across the board usage," he said, anticipating that new devices would provide customers with an "array of new experiences that you don't have historically... I think these thing end up rippling through all of our customers."

Earnings for the quarter, meanwhile, increased to $1.02 billion (36 cents per share) from $955 million (33 cents per share) a year ago.

Comcast noted that the subscriber loss for the quarter was less than the 199,000 it lost in 4Q2009, suggesting the impact of the digital transition "is now behind us."

Comcast also said it had no expectation to implement usage caps, despite expectations that subscriber video usage would increase with the continued adoption of Xfinity and offer of live programming to Xfinity.

"We're focusing on the retention side of the business as customers came off promotional rates," Roberts said.

For more:
- see this release

Related articles:
Can Comcast play over the top? Roberts says he's sure Xfinity will fly
Comcast rolls out Xfinity remote control, player app for iPad
Comcast loses 275K more subscribers in Q3; revenue up
Roberts: 275K subscribers gone in Q3... but they're not cord cutters

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