Comcast adds subscribers for the first time in six years

Michelle Clancy | 29-01-2014

No 1 US cable MSO Comcast added 43,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2013, breaking a 26-quarter losing streak to add customers to the TV roster for the first time in six years.

The result was a 26% spike in net income to reach $1.913 billion, or $0.72 per share, compared with $1.518 billion or $0.56 per share in the prior-year quarter. Total revenue came in at $16.926 billion, up 6.2% year-over-year.

As of the end of the year, Comcast had 21.690 million video customers that's still down 1.4% year-over-year but a notable coup in a saturated market that has seen satellite and IPTV poaching video market share without quarter. At least one analyst credits Comcast's next-gen TV strategies, like TV everywhere, whole-home DVR and the X1 cloud middleware.

"Comcast completed its major technical innovations, such as DOCSIS 3.0, all digital networks and a multi-platform content delivery network," said Zacks Equity, in an investor note. "Moreover, launch of innovative services such as Xfinity Home, Wi-Fi, Streampix, X1, upcoming X2 and the high speed Metro Ethernet will not only drive subscriber growth for the company but will also safeguard its position against major carriers like Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc, and online video streaming service providers like Netflix."

Cable video revenue was $5.120 billion, up 2.9% from the prior-year quarter. High speed Internet revenue was $2.650 billion, up 8.7% year-over-year, and voice revenues were $928 million (up 3.7%). Advertising revenues were $602 million, down 7.5% from the year-ago quarter, and business services revenue was $876 million, up 25.3% year-over-year. Other revenues were $485 million, up 8.5% year-over-year.

At NBCUniversal, quarterly total revenue was $6.464 billion, up 7.5% year-over-year. Out of that, cable networks revenues were $2.324 billion, up 5.3%. Broadcast TV revenues were $2.227 billion, up 11.5%, and filmed entertainment revenues were $1.448 billion, up 4.9% from the year-ago quarter. Theme parks revenues were $566 million, up 8.8%.

During the fourth quarter, Comcast repurchased 10.8 million worth of its common shares for $500 million and paid dividends totalling $510 million. Following the results, the company raised its share buyback plan to $7.5 billion. Consequently, Comcast hiked its yearly dividend payments by 15.4% to 90 cents per share.

Outside of video, Comcast added 20.662 million broadband customers (up 6.3% year-over-year) and 10.723 million voice subs (up 7.2%).