Comcast Loses 129K Video Subs in Q330 Oct, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Ongoing video declines leave No. 1 cabler almost 10 million subs behind Netflix, and just 1.3 million ahead of its rising high-speed Internet business
Comcast Oct. 30 reported a third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) drop of 129,000 video subscribers, ending the period with more than 21.6 million video members. The decline was 12,000 more than the 117,000 video subs lost during the previous-year period.
The Philadelphia-based cable operator has lost 348,000 video subscribers through the first nine months of the year — up 18,000 subscribers from the same period in 2012. The industry trend in video sub losses among cable operators is expected to continue when Time Warner Cable reports its fiscal results on Halloween.
Indeed, Comcast now has almost as many high-speed Internet subscribers (20.2 million) as video (21.6 million). It gained nearly 300,000 broadband subs in the quarter, compared with 287,000 last year.
The No. 1 cabler’s video sub base is nearly 10 million behind Netflix — a primary reason why it is considering bowing a less expensive broadband package featuring 20 channels, including HBO, in addition to its oft forgotten Streampix subscription video-on-demand service.
Indeed, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the cabler is not considering adding the Netflix app to its set-top boxes in the near future, despite Wall Street scuttlebutt suggesting a possible partnership. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has all but courted the cabler during recent presentations, claiming his SVOD service is complementary — not adversarial — to multichannel video program distributors.
Should Comcast include Netflix in its set-top box, the impact could be similar to the SVOD pioneer's inclusion on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox — both of which contributed millions of subscribers to Netflix.
But don't hold your breath.
“It’s not really a high priority for us,” Neil Smit, CEO of cable operations, said in the analyst call. “We have nothing to report on the Netflix front.”