Cable, Telco Stem Subscriber Losses

Watching-TV-ABCA Wall Street analyst projects cable/satellite/telco operators collectively posted slight growth in the number of pay-TV subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2011, with cable slowing its slide. Miller Tabak’s David Joyce said Friday he expects the industry to post a net addition of 19,000 customers, while cable’s subscriber loss would be far less than it was in the same period the year before.

Cable is expected to post a net loss of 341,000 subscribers, down from 511,000 in the last three months of 2010.

In his report, Joyce cited “slightly improving unemployment figures” as propelling some of the improved results.

Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T report fourth-quarter results this week.



Cable’s better results suggest somewhat sluggish numbers for telco and satellite operators. While Verizon is projected to add 190,000 homes -- up from 182,000 at the end of 2010 -- expectations were closer to 200,000.

Joyce suggested that battles with Cablevision may be a factor in the lower numbers, and his figures project that the Long Island-based operator will post a mere 2,000-subscriber drop, better than the 35,000 in the last quarter of 2010. 

Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the country’s two largest operators, are also projected to deliver lesser year-over-year decreases of 18,000 and about 10,000, respectively.

For Q4 of last year, AT&T U-verse is expected to have net additions of 195,000 -- down from 246,000 in 2010.

Dish Network, however, should post improved results, with a 60,000 loss -- better than the 156,000 decline at the end of 2010.

Joyce projects that DirecTV, which has been bucking industry trends, will post a 35,000 net gain, down from 289,000 the year before.

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