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Video Subs Fall Across the Board for Cablecos

3Q11 Connections: CATV Video Subs and Homes Passed

In 3Q11, publicly traded cable companies across the board reported losses of television customers, giving up ground to the ILECs, and potentially losing subs to OTT providers, as consumers are getting their video fix elsewhere. Collectively, the cablecos in our sample shed 422k video subs in the quarter, and YoY they have trimmed 2.5% off of their video customer base.

The cable giants have the most video subs to lose, and it follows that they took the biggest hit in 3Q11—Comcast (Nasdaq:CMCSA) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWC) lost 165k and 126k television subs, respectively.  Charter (Nasdaq:CHTR) actually closed on a pair of acquisitions in 3Q11 that netted it around 25k video subs, but it still reported a net loss of 42k video customers for the quarter.

Knology (Nasdaq:KNOL), Suddenlink and Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) were the only cablecos that posted video gains YoY, but in all cases the growth was not organic. Knology picked video subs through its acquisition of CoBridge’s cable systems in 2Q11, and Suddenlink added 82k basic cable subs with its 2Q11 purchase of NPG Cable. Meanwhile, Cablevision’s YoY customer increase was fueled by its 4Q10 acquisition of systems from Bresnan Cable.

With the decline in video subs came a corresponding drop in penetration of homes passed. The publicly traded cablecos only penetrated 43.5% of home passed with basic video services in 3Q11, compared to 45.3% as of 3Q10. At the high end, Alaskan cable provider GCI reported penetration of 61.1% while Charter’s penetration continued to lag behind the competition with 36.6% penetration in 3Q11.

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