Telcos, Cable Operators see Broadband Subscriber Numbers Skyrocket

By Jim O'Neill on Nov 22 2013 at 8:00 AM

Despite an erosion of pay-TV subscriber numbers, service providers are seeing broadband subscriptions numbers soar, with the top pay-TV service providers adding more than 520,000 broadband customers in the most recent quarter, new research says.

It’s a trend that’s likely to continue as more U.S. viewers, eager to access online video sites and services like ESPN, Netflix, Hulu and CBS, turn to their providers for access to high-speed Internet.

As Cablevision CEO Jimmy Dolan told the Wall Street Journal in August: “Ultimately over the long term I think that the whole video product is eventually going to go to the Internet.  I’m not willing to cede that position now, and I’ve got a lot of customers that buy my video product…[but] the handwriting is on the wall, particularly when you look at young customers.”

The New York-area cable operator was one of the few among the biggest providers to lose broadband customers (it was down some 13,000 subs). The top cable customers across the country added some 440,000 broadband subs, while telcos added 80,000.

Overall, cable operators now count 48.7 million broadband subs and telcos an additional 34.9 million, said Leichtman Research Group (LRG).

The news isn’t all good for cable, however, as their broadband adds were just 76% of what they’d seen in 3Q2012.

The telco segment, however, saw their growth swell from 4,000 new subs in 3Q2012 to 80,000 this year, virtually all of it fiber via U-verse and FiOS. Between the two, they added 828,000 fiber subs and shed some 798,000 slower DSL subscribers. Nearly half (45%) of telco broadband subscribers now have fiber connections, up 9% from a year ago.

For the year, LRG said, telco and cable operators have seen their broadband rolls grow by 1.93 million users, compared to 2.15 million adds in the first three quarters of 2012.

“With top providers now having over 83.6 million subscribers, the broadband industry continues to grow, but at a slightly slower pace than a year ago,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc.  “In the first three quarters of 2013, the top providers added about 1,930,000 subscribers, compared to about 2,150,000 in the first three quarters of 2012.”


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