Comcast: “X1 a Real Competitive Differentiator”

The company had a net increase in subscribers in every quarter last year, and it says it has the X1 platform to thank.

Comcast’s X1 setup

Comcast’s Xfinity X1 cable platform is such a hit that for the first time in a decade the company’s cable division had a net increase in subscribers in every quarter last year, the company announced in an earnings call on Thursday.

Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh called the platform “a real competitive differentiator.” The company added 80,000 new video customers in the fourth quarter alone. The growth, Cavanagh said, is due in part to a broader recognition of what Comcast believes is the best product on the market.

At the beginning of 2016, just 30 percent of Comcast customers had X1, which grew to 48 percent of customers by the end of the year. The cable giant predicts that about 60 percent of subscribers will be on X1 by the end of 2017, and that as many as 75 to 80 percent of customers will eventually use it.

The X1 system’s evolving features — the coveted voice remote, unified search and instant play, DVR, and live TV streaming — may be a big reason why customers haven’t opted for cutting the cord altogether. Comcast has also shown customers that they’re committed to diversifying and expanding their content with recent Netflix and SlingTV deals.

According to the company, X1’s reliability has allowed Comcast to retain its subscription base while also attracting new users. “Every way you study this thing, it looks like a fantastic product, a game-changing product,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts during the call.

We’ve asked before what the Trump administration could mean for telecom giants like Comcast, in light of the new president’s antagonistic stance on business monopolies. But Roberts said he’s encouraged by regulatory certainty when it comes to corporate tax reform and developments in the ongoing net neutrality debate: “We’re encouraged by the prospect of rules that we believe will … stimulate investment, whether that’s a tax decrease or revisiting the authority of the government to go to places that they said they weren’t going to but legally they could go into with the Open Internet order.”

Roberts went on to say he’s looking forward to working with the new administration and regulatory leaders.

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