& 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
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
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 Interviews
CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype

6|23|17   |   04:02   |   (0) comments


Technology becomes a "shiny object" unless it's properly focused on solving business needs for enterprise customers, says Bill Grubbs, network solutions architect for CenturyLink. He explains to Light Reading why SD-WAN deployments have to be tailored to specific needs – and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments


At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTE•ISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing ICN as a Network Slice for Mobile Data Distribution

6|19|17   |     |   (1) comment


Network slicing in 5G allows the potential introduction of new network architectures such as Information-centric Networks (ICN) as a slice, managed over a shared pool of compute, storage and bandwidth resource. Services over an ICN slice can benefit from many architectural features such as Name Based Networking, Security, Multicasting, Multi-homing, Mobility, ...
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Mike Roberts on 5G Uptake

6|19|17   |   04:08   |   (0) comments


Mike Roberts, research director for Ovum's service provider markets group, explains why he has boosted his 5G subscriptions forecast.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Hubbard on Intersection of SD-WAN & MPLS

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Rick Hubbard, SVP of Network Product Management for AT&T Business Solutions, discusses how AT&T's approach to SD-WAN fits in with its overall virtualization strategy, explains how SD-WAN can improve enterprise customers' use of the cloud and addresses the intersection of SD-WAN and MPLS.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Keep Connected IoT Devices Under Control With Allot

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Allot AVP of International Pre-Sales, Daniel Keidar, explains how communications service providers can protect infrastructure and service availability from flooding attacks caused by malfunctioning or bot-infected devices connected to their network.
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
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
Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
No Imagination: UK Chip Biz Goes Up for Sale
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/22/2017
Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
BT Tech Chief Makes Plea to 5G Chip Vendors
Ray Le Maistre, International Group Editor, 6/20/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
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 ...
Animals with Phones
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.