Telecom & Wireless

Cable Companies Added 3 Million Broadband Subscribers in 2015

The top 17 cable and telephone providers, representing some 94% of the U.S. market, added a net new 3.1 million subscribers in 2015. The cable companies, led by Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), added 3.3 million net new subscribers and the telephone companies lost 187,000 net subscribers, led by a drop of 250,000 at AT&T Inc. (NYSE T).

Annual net additions represent 104% of the 2014 total, the most since 2010.

Additions at the top cable companies accounted for 106% of the growth in broadband subscriptions during the year. In 2014, subscriptions grew by 89% year over year, and in 2013 additions rose by 82%. Over the past year, cable companies have accounted for 124% of the total 3.1 million net new broadband subscribers. The data were included in a new report from the Leichtman Research Group and were released on Friday.

On Thursday, Leichtman reported that the top 13 pay-TV companies lost about 385,000 pay-TV subscribers in 2015, compared with a loss of about 150,000 in 2014 and a loss of about 100,000 in 2013. The top pay-TV providers accounted for 94.2 million subscribers in 2015, with cable companies accounting for 49 million, satellite providers accounting for 33.7 million and telcos for about 11.5 million.

Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst at Leichtman Research Group, said:

2015 marked the third consecutive year for pay-TV industry net losses, yet the total number of subscribers for major pay-TV providers (including DISH’s Sling TV) has declined by less than one million since the industry peaked in 1Q 2012. 2015 also saw significant shifts for cable and Telco providers. The top cable providers cumulatively had their best year since 2006, and had about 870,000 fewer losses than in 2014. Telcos had about 1,170,000 fewer net additions than in 2014, and had their worst year since they began providing video services in 2006.

According to Leichtman, there are about 90.5 million broadband subscribers. Broadband added more subscribers in 2015 than in any year since 2010, and broadband subscriber numbers have grown by 6.1 million over the past two years, with cable companies accounting for 97% of the increase.

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