Comcast still not growing basic video subs – but don’t worry.


The recent Q4 2012 report from Comcast is interesting. The country’s largest Cable MSO picked up 341,000 cable modem subscribers, and lost 7000 basic video subscribers. This is a lot better for Comcast compared to previous quarters of large basic subscriber losses.

comcast center Paul J Everett Flickr

Comcast Center Paul J Everett Flickr

What does this data mean? I’ll speculate. Someone who signs up for cable modem service only wants internet, and either doesn’t want a video channel line-up or gets it from somewhere else. Where? Well it seems unlikely that this new cable modem customer also has Dish or DirecTV (although the DirecTV combo might make sense for a hard core NFL fan). What is more likely is that the new cable modem customer has decided he or she does not want a video channel plan. Cord cutters and cord nevers, are slowly having an impact.

Another interesting set of numbers (table below) is high speed internet vs video customers in 2011 vs 2012.

comcast q4 2012 crop

Notice that as of 2012 these numbers are moving in opposite directions and if this trend continues soon the number of internet customers will exceed video customers .

Comcast will become more of  an ISP (internet service provider) than  a “cable company”.

Actually the highest growth area for Comcast (and other US cable operators) right now is neither video nor residential internet.  The fastest growing area in cable is “business services”.  These are typically Ethernet services to local businesses of 10Mb up to 1Gb.  This puts Comcast in direct competition with AT&T and other traditional telco type providers.

So if this whole traditional cable operator model should someday go “poof”, and be replaced by one big a la carte OTT (aka iTunes) deal you need not fret about Comcast. They have a game plan.

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11 Responses to Comcast still not growing basic video subs – but don’t worry.

    • Greg says:

      Thanks for posting this link Bob. I’m not sure the internet in the US is a total monopoly, but it is a bit slow poke. Read about what Google Fiber is doing in Kansas City. That has stirred things up a bit there.

  1. len says:

    They are working on it. TWC and Comcast own most of the content and means of delivery in the US. They stifle competition via bundling, franchise agreements, the FCC, courts, and the Librarian of Congress.

    Aereo has been in the news for beating Big Entertainment in the courts. This is a rare win. In Georgia, ‘incumbent broadband providers’ are pushing legislation to prevent municipalities from building their own networks. Once Big E owns either the content monopoly or the delivery monopoly in a market, they use bundling to undersell the competition. “If you buy either of our services, we’ll give you what the competition is selling for free.”

    They use the FCC to prevent broadcasters from accessing your living room via the internet. I asked a local broadcaster why they did not have a Roku channel. The answer, “TV Stations pay for the broadcast rights of most of the content they televise, and those agreements can limit the geographic area to their television market or to their coverage area, but not beyond to protect exclusivity. That is the main reason that TV stations cannot stream their content 24/7.” The FCC could fix this, but is in the pocket of the providers.

    The only solution is to minimize the value of content so independent delivery providers can compete. The government won’t do this, but we can. Put up an antenna and boycott Big E. Pay a premium for distribution not owned by Big E.

    • Greg says:

      Thanks Len. I’m interested in the FCC’s role that you refer to. Have there been any legal or legislative attempts to remove those geographic limits ?

  2. Bob says:

    This is also interesting, networks are going to stop airing re-runs on tv and send them online.

    • len says:

      I wonder what they will fill the time with. I don’t really mind. I record my favorite shows and I’d rather watch MeTV than reruns of shows that ran earlier in the week. I wouldn’t even mind a protracted strike. I have boxed sets of Friends, Seinfeld, That Seventies Show plus recordings on five DVRs and more than 300 DVDs to tide me over. Boo hoo! And if this is about losing healthcare, didn’t these guys support the guy who made it unaffordable? Boo hoo!

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