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Time Warner Cable Loses 184,000 Video Subs in Q3

30 Oct, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

No. 2 cabler has shed 370,000 video subs since Jan. 1, which is actually an improvement over 616,000 subs lost year-over-year

With Comcast closer to regulatory approval of its acquisition of Time Warner Cable, how many video subs it absorbs when consummation occurs remains a question mark. That’s because Time Warner Cable lost 184,000 video subscribers in the third-quarter (ended Sept. 30), to end the period with 10.8 million subs.

The nation’s No. 2 cabler has lost 370,000 combined subs through the first three quarters of 2014. That’s actually a 40% improvement year-over-year when TWC reported a 616,000-video sub loss through nine months.

The year-ago period saw a mass subscriber exodus following a month-long retransmission dispute between TWC and CBS, which resulted in the cabler yanking CBS programming. The move saw TWC subs denied access to CBS prime time broadcasts, in addition to Showtime, The Movie Channel and The Smithsonian Channel.

As a result, TWC spent $15 million in the most recent quarter in subscriber credits from the blackout. In addition, transactional VOD revenue from movies and TV shows was lower than expected.

Separately, TWC continues to suffer revenue shortfalls from the disastrous rollout of SportsNet LA, the nascent cable network owned by the Los Angeles Dodgers and distributed exclusively by TWC.

Multichannel video program distributors such as DirecTV have refused to carry SportsNet, citing exorbitant carriage fees it would in turn pass on to subscribers. As a result, nearly 70% of the Los Angeles market has been unable to access Dodgers broadcasts.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to retain and lure video subs, TWC is marketing a cloud-based DVR, with improved storage functionality, including the ability to record up to six broadcasts simultaneously. The 1TB DVR is apparently jump-starting transactional VOD, among other on-demand programing options, according to CEO Robert Marcus.

“I think that as we roll out more advanced guides, including our companion apps, the control that customers will have over how they manage their DVR should also make our [transactional VOD] offering more compelling,” Marcus told analysts on the Oct. 30 fiscal call.



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