Throughout 2020, most of the major cable and satellite companies have been losing huge amounts of pay TV customers each quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated long-term cord-cutting trends.
In the second quarter, however, one company managed to buck the trend, with Charter Communications announcing that it actually added 102,000 residential video customers in the second three months of the year, while nearly every one of its rivals lost subscribers at the same time. This was attributed, in part, to Charter having offered free service to some customers in the opening months of the pandemic and managing to retain many of them as paying customers.
Now, in the third quarter, Charter has done it again. The company, which owns Spectrum cable, gained 67,000 residential and small business pay TV subscribers in the third quarter of 2020, compared with a loss of 75,000 in the same quarter last year. Of those net-gained subscribers, 53,000 were residential, and the rest business.
That left Charter with 15.7 million video subscribers. The company also posted revenue of $12 billion in the quarter, which was a year-over-year gain of 5.1 percent, although it was short of analyst estimates, according to Zacks Equity Research.
Most of Charter’s rivals in the cable space, including Comcast, have announced pay-TV subscriber losses for the third quarter, although losses not as steep as those in the first two quarters of the year. Comcast, for instance, lost 273.000 wireless subscribers in the third quarter, after losing 477,000 and 400,000, respectively, in the first and second quarters of the year.
Several of those companies have also added huge amounts of Internet customers in recent quarters, and Charter has as well, adding 494,000 residential Internet customers in the third quarter.
“Our long-term strategy of growing customer relationships by delivering high-quality products and service remains on track,” Tom Rutledge, Chairman and CEO of Charter Communications, Inc., said in Charter’s release. “We’ve added two million customer relationships in the past year and remain focused on executing a proven operating and investment strategy that works for customers, employees and the communities we serve, creating shareholder value for the long term.”
The company had more to say about its performance in its earnings call, per a transcript, per Motley Fool.
“To put what is already a strong third quarter subscriber results into perspective, remember that our Q2 results of 755,000 customer relationship net adds and 850,000 Internet net adds already included the benefit of our COVID programs,” the company’s CFO, Christopher L. Winfrey, said on the call. “And our third quarter results reflect any churn out of those programs.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.