& cplSiteName &

WOW Bucks Cable Trend

Alan Breznick
3/19/2014
50%
50%

Unlike most major US cable operators, WideOpenWest (WOW) ended 2013 on an upbeat note, picking up video subscribers for the second straight quarter.

WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) , a big cable overbuilder that now has more video subscribers than all but eight of the nation's traditional MSOs, reported this week that it added 3,700 basic video subscribers in the fourth quarter. While this may seem like a pretty pitiful increase for a company with nearly 700,000 video customers, it was a better performance than nearly all of the large cable operators reported for the period. Except for Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), all of the major publicly owned MSOs reported video customer losses for the fall quarter.

The fourth-quarter increase for WOW also came on top of a larger subscriber gain in the third-quarter, a period when big MSOs like Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) shed subscribers in buckets. WOW, which competes against either TWC or Comcast in most of its predominantly Midwestern markets, netted 8,400 customers in the second quarter, leading to a gain of more than 12,000 customers for the second half of the year.

Despite the second-half surge, WOW still ended 2013 with fewer video subscribers than it had at the start of the year. For the year, the provider lost about 10,000 video customers, due to steeper losses over the first half of the year, pushing its total down to 694,000. (See WOW Loses Subs Across the Board.)

Like most cable operators, WOW is now enjoying greater success on the broadband side of the business and actually has more data customers than video customers. The company added 14,600 high-speed data subscribers in the fourth quarter, after gaining 16,300 customers in the third quarter. For the year, it netted 31,300 broadband subs, boosting its total to 740,000.

WOW executives credited the gains at least partly to the strides they're making in cutting customer churn rates and integrating the cable-like systems they took over from another, smaller cable overbuilder, Knology, in July 2012. Speaking on the company's quarterly earnings call with analysts Wednesday, they said they're focused on bringing the former Knology systems up to "product parity" with the legacy WOW systems.

WOW president Steven Cochran said the product parity push is leading to more HD channels and higher broadband speeds in the former Knology markets. Cochran, who will take over as company CEO when current CEO Colleen Abdoulah steps down from the post at the end of the month, said WOW is also pushing ahead with all-digital conversions in the old Knology markets, which are located mainly in midsize and smaller metro areas throughout the Southeast. "We're trying to get the acquired markets to look like our overall markets," he said. (See WOW! Names Executive Leadership.)

Besides bringing the Knology systems up to snuff and cutting churn rates, Cochran said WOW is heavily focused on beefing up its business services capabilities. With its networks in such major markets as Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and Columbus, he said the company spent much of 2013 building its commercial platform, staffing, and products so it could roll out business services in a big way this year.

"We invested in people and technology," he said. "We're very focused on service delivery."

With this new commercial focus, WOW has already launched Metro Ethernet and SIP trunking service so far this year. Cochran said plans also call for rolling out hosted voice service by the summer, along with some kind of "HFC product to expand our footprint" further down the road.

WOW, which generated slightly higher pro forma revenues of nearly $1.2 billion in 2013, said it expects revenue to rise 6% to 8% in 2014. It expects capital spending to rise by the same amount, due mainly to heavier spending on business services.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Phil_Britt
50%
50%
Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/20/2014 | 7:26:53 PM
Re: Pay attention to WOW
Again, WOW isn't perfect, my experience is that it's a far sight better than the cable competition. I've never looked at Dish or other satellite providers because I don't see them as viable solutions for my needs. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/20/2014 | 6:24:02 PM
Re: Pay attention to WOW

Do you think customer service is key to WOW's bucking the industry trend?

I wouldn't count these results as a victory. One quarter of tepid growth, combined with year-over-year decline, is not a great result.

Phil_Britt
50%
50%
Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/20/2014 | 3:17:26 PM
Re: Pay attention to WOW
What they are doing right is providing decent customer service. I've been a WOW customer for more than a decade. One year I switched to Comcast for a "deal," and it wasn't a week before I wished I could switch back (stuck in a one-year contract). 

Comcast ran cable where it was convenient for them and had almost non-existent customer service.

That's not to say WOW is perfect. I've had a few issues, but the company is pretty good about providing something off the bill if there's a problem. 
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/20/2014 | 9:06:04 AM
Re: Pay attention to WOW
They're certainly doing something right. I seem to recall that they pretty consistently win the JD Power award for customer satisfaction in the North Central region. That's no small feat for a cable industry  that traditionally is a basement dweller in most of these surveys.

There's something to be said for remaining modestly sized and focusing on what's on your plate.
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
3/19/2014 | 10:15:24 PM
Pay attention to WOW
WOW doesn't get much attention but it should. It's the 9th largest cable operator in the US and operates in a bunch of major markets, especially in the midwest. And it's clearly expanding both its footprint and product set. Sop I'd keep my eye on them, despite the silly acronym.   
From The Founder
Either we perform a complete 'factory reset' on the way the telecom industry creates and deploys virtualization, or we face the consequences.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
The Urgency of Commercial 5G Services

4|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


The progress of 5G has been closely monitored in the industry. At the 2017 Brooklyn 5G Summit, the sense of urgency for a commercial 5G launch had started to surface among operators.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
How Diversity Helps Comcast Mirror Its Customer Base

4|26|17   |   2:55   |   (0) comments


Diversity brings innovation, creative ideas and a way to reflect the broad spectrum of your customer base, Comcast Director of Customer Experience Jenelle Champlin says.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Mobile Operators & Video

4|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ovum's Ed Barton discusses the latest mobile operator strategies for mobile video.
LRTV Custom TV
Infinera Introduces Instant Network

4|20|17   |     |   (1) comment


Mike Capuano, vice president of marketing at Infinera, discusses the advancement from Instant Bandwidth to new Instant Network capabilities, which include Bandwidth License Pools, Moveable Licenses and Automated Capacity Engineering (ACE).
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Vodafone's Eubank on Sponsors, Mentors & Moving On Up

4|19|17   |   4:25   |   (0) comments


Vodafone America's Head of Operations Kimberly Eubank breaks down the difference between a sponsor and a mentor and shares why both made a big difference in her career.
LRTV Custom TV
NYC Auto Show: Are We Smart Yet?

4|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


The auto industry is facing some big transformations as electric vehicles, autonomous technology and connected cars are seen as the future of the industry. During the much-anticipated NY international auto show, there was an emergence of new technology and mobility service on the show floor. Aside from performance, brands like Lincoln, Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes and ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Impact of Video

4|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Mercer from Strategy Analytics discusses the impact of video on current strategies.
LRTV Custom TV
Pardeep Kohli Discusses Network Transformation & the Market Opportunity for the 'New' Mavenir Systems

4|13|17   |     |   (0) comments


In a brief discussion at MWC 2017, Heavy Reading analyst Adi Kishore talks to Pardeep Kohli, CEO, Mavenir Systems about the creation of the 'new Mavenir' and some of the key challenges facing operators in today's market. A key theme of the discussion centers around operator need for software-only, virtualized solutions and how they will need to adapt to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Tech Maverick Shares Her Tips for Gender Inclusivity

4|12|17   |   7:28   |   (0) comments


Wendy Hall Bohling, a corporate escapee, author and gender exclusivity consultant, tells her story of sexism, bias and progress along the road to gender equality in the workforce.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at MWC 2017

4|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


At Mobile World Congress 2017, the biggest mobile industry gathering of the year, Huawei showcased its new innovations and solutions with the theme "Open Road," which focuses on cloud, 5G, operation transformation, videos and consumer-oriented products. Its campaign has been recognized by three awards given by GSMA.
LRTV Custom TV
China Telecom NFV Infrastructure on RSD

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


Lynn Comp, senior director of market development of Intel, is joined by Chong Zhang, storage engineer at Inspur and Ou Li Yan, architect for technology strategies of China Telecom, for a discussion of what NFV brings.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's IMPACT Software Demo

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


Khamis Abulgubein of IoT market development at Nokia demonstrates IMPACT (intelligent management platform for all connected things), a software solution with a horizontal approach to managing any device on any application.
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Brazos Hall - Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Surprise! AT&T Markets 4G Advances as '5G Evolution'
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/25/2017
Did Verizon Outbid AT&T for Straight Path?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/25/2017
Netflix Set to Enter China
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/25/2017
First Year TIPs the Scale Toward Success
Denise Culver, 4/24/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.