Roberts: Stream is ‘Platform From Which To Upsell Consumers’

As Comcast signs more consumers to its new $15 monthly Stream broadband, broadcast TV and HBO bundle, it is counting on converting many of those cost-conscious subscribers to its flagship X1 product, CEO Brian Roberts said Thursday.

Comcast plans to launch Stream in Boston by the end of the summer, followed by Chicago, Seattle and its entire footprint by early next year. “We won’t see meaningful results in the near future. But we’re very excited to have a range of products, and then to have a platform from which to upsell consumers from,” Roberts told analysts on Comcast’s second-quarter earnings call.

Compared to digital cable installations, many of which require Comcast to spend capital on truck rolls, the onboarding process for Stream is as simple as asking a consumer to download an application to a smartphone or tablet. By offering access to its Xfinity On Demand library and the ability to record broadcast content on a cloud DVR, Comcast will look to upsell Stream customers to X1, which features more content that can be viewed on both HDTVs and mobile devices.

If Comcast succeeds in converting Stream customers to X1, it has shown that it has a better chance of retaining those subscribers. X1 subscribers churn at a rate that is 30 percent less than customers that don’t have the cloud-based platform, which includes access to a voice activated remote control, Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit said on the earnings call.

“We’re getting better quality customers, and retaining them longer,” Smith said regarding X1.

Also worth noting from Comcast’s earnings report and conference call:

  • Roberts said Comcast will launch DOCSIS 3.1 in the fourth quarter. “We think we have an exciting roadmap that doesn’t require us to go out and rebuild things,” Roberts said regarding Comcast’s push to deploy technology that will help it offer gigabit broadband service.
  • Smit said the results of Comcast’s tests of usage-based broadband pricing “has been neutral to slightly positive. We don’t have plans on expanding that anytime soon.”
  • While Comcast shed 69,000 video customers in Q2, it gained 180,000 high-speed Internet and 4,000 voice subscribers.

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