Billionaire Comcast CEO Brian Roberts boasted Tuesday that his cable company had “modestly” added television subscribers for the first time since 2007. After 26 straight quarters of losses, Roberts credited the Q4 subscriber net gain to investments Comcast has made in the evolution of its service, particularly in digital video and TV Everywhere.
The cable industry has seen an consistent decline in television subscribers in recent years as customers engage in “cord cutting,” the name for abandoning traditional cable TV for Internet and à la carte options. Speaking at a conference in Las Vegas, Roberts called Comcast’s first subscriber gain in 6 years ”the beginning of an exciting reversal of trends.”
The company won’t provide specific numbers until it reports full earnings on January 28th. And even then we won’t know if this tick up in subscribers is a brief bump in a larger story of decline or the start of a turnaround, as Roberts suggests.
Overall industry trends would suggest the former, but the billionaire CEO is confident. In Las Vegas, he demonstrated the next generation Xfinity X1 and X2 services, including innovations like voice-activated remote controls and the ability to rent or buy movies — a feature rolled out last November. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Roberts said over the last decade, Comcast has serviced 30 billion on-demand content orders.
Roberts returned to the billionaire ranks last August for the first time since 2001, largely on the impressive rebound of Comcast stock. His net worth sits at over $1.15 billion.