Comcast, Cablevision, Charter expected to reduce Q4 subscriber losses

While Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) is expected to post increased basic video subscriber losses from the fourth quarter, Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) and Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) will likely reduce video subscriber losses compared to the fourth quarter of 2011, Jefferies & Co. said Thursday.

The investment bank said it expects Time Warner Cable will report that it lost 140,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter, compared to 129,000 during the same period last year. Comcast is expected to report that it lost 12,000 video subscribers, compared to 17,000 last year. Charter is expected to reduce subscriber losses by 8,000 to 38,000 subscribers, and Cablevision will report video subscriber losses of 10,000, compared to 14,000 during the fourth quarter of 2011, Jefferies said.

All of the major public cable MSOs are expected to report strong gains in high-speed Internet subscribers, according to the investment bank. It expects Comcast picked up a whopping 369,000 cable modem customers in the fourth quarter, while Time Warner Cable added 101,000. Charter is expected to report high-speed subscriber additions of 80,000, and Cablevision will report an increase of 5,000 broadband subscribers, Jefferies said.

Comcast will lead the cable MSOs in increased voice subscribers, gaining 135,000 during the fourth quarter, the firm predicted. The nation's largest cable MSO will be followed by Charter (64,000 voice subscriber additions), Time Warner Cable (26,000) and Cablevision (17,000).

DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) CEO Mike White disclosed earlier this month that the satellite TV provider added 100,000 net subscribers in the fourth quarter, down from 125,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Jefferies predicts Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) will report that it gained 110,000 net subscribers in the fourth quarter, a significant improvement compared to the 22,000 subscribers it added during the same period in 2011.

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) CEO Lowell McAdam told attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show that the company picked up 130,000 FiOS TV subscribers during the fourth quarter, despite the impact that Hurricane Sandy had on its systems in the Northeast.

Jefferies said the impact of the superstorm will see major MSOs report increased capital spending. It expects Cablevision to report $258 million in capital spending, compared to $193 million during the fourth quarter of 2011. Comcast will report $1.33 billion in capex, and Time Warner Cable will report $930 million in capex, Jefferies said.

Special Coverage: Hurricane Sandy's aftermath
Special Report: Sizing up the cable industry in Q4 2011

Related articles:
DirecTV picks up 100,000 subscribers in Q4 2012
Cablevision may launch WiFi voice service; warns of 'significant' impact from Hurricane Sandy