The stock touched a new all-time high and is up 3.7% this afternoon after Brian Roberts said that, after 26 straight quarters of losing video subscribers, “I’m pleased to tell you that we modestly grew customers” in Q4. “It’s a real beginning of an exciting reversal of trends…It’s encouraging.” The Comcast CEO added that the company also is seeing higher buy rates for pay-per-view, and lower churn rates. Electronic movie sales also are going well: Over Thanksgiving weekend, Comcast was the top seller of home videos for Despicable Me 2, Fast & Furious 6, and The Hunger Games. He says the turnaround is mostly due to Comcast’s efforts to improve its service — not to the improving overall economy — especially as the No. 1 cable operator has introduced its X1 and X2 cloud-based, on-screen guides and platforms. Based on the early experience, Comcast will accelerate the rollout of the X1 platform to soon include a majority of its customers. Roberts also reiterated his confidence in the prospects for NBCUniversal as it closes the gap with its TV rivals in affiliate fees, retransmission fees, and ad rates. He warned, though, that in 2014 Universal Studios will have “a slower year as we ramp up for 2015” when it will offer more sequels for its franchise hits. In a softball interview at a Citibank investor conference that coincides with the International CES gathering in Las Vegas, Roberts swatted away questions about cable consolidation — the issue on everyone’s minds.
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