Time Warner Cable drops 831,000 video subscribers in 2013

Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) lost 215,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter, bleeding nearly twice as many customers as it did during the same period in 2012, CFO Arthur Minson said at a Citigroup conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The fourth quarter capped what may be the worst year in the history of Time Warner Cable, in terms of subscriber losses. It dropped a total of 831,000 video subscribers last year. TWC took the biggest hit in the third quarter, attributing some of the 306,000 subscribers that it lost to its programming dispute with CBS Corp. TWC dropped 119,000 in Q1 and 191,000 in Q2, with executives attributing the losses during those periods to subscribers who defected after promotional discounts expired.

The good news: Minson said TWC gained 40,000 high-speed Internet subscribers in Q4, and that it gained 60,000 video subscribers in December, compared to video subscriber additions of 20,000 that it saw in December 2012. It's worth noting that TWC ran a unique holiday promotion with Samsung in December in which it offered new subscribers free Galaxy tablet computers.

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) fared much better than TWC in Q4. CEO Brian Roberts told attendees at the Citigroup conference on Tuesday that Comcast will report a modest increase in video subscribers when it reports earnings on Jan. 28. TWC is scheduled to report Q4 earnings on Jan. 30.

Minson didn't detail which TWC markets saw the most subscriber losses during the third quarter. But Verizon (NYSE: VZ) executives have said several times in recent months that New York City, where TWC is the incumbent cable MSO, has been one of the fastest-growing markets for FiOS TV and Internet subscriber growth.

TWC ended 2013 with about 11.5 million video subscribers and 11.1 million broadband customers, based on quarterly subscriber metrics Minson disclosed on Wednesday. If TWC continues to lose video subscribers while growing its broadband customer base, it could soon count more broadband customers than pay TV subscribers.

For more:
- Reuters has this story

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