Charter Keeps RS-DVR on Sidelines
Charter Communications Inc. 's strategic priorities for 2012 call for it to "change the dynamic" of its video business, but the RS-DVR, a service CEO Tom Rutledge championed when he was at Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), won't be in the mix.
"The RS-DVR ultimately is a strategy for enhancing the value of the network and moving intelligence into the network and reducing CPE [costs], but I'm not sure it's an immediate priority for Charter," Rutledge said on Monday's fourth-quarter earnings call. (See Ex-Cablevision COO Becomes Charter CEO and Cablevision's Network DVR Debuts in the Bronx .)
While Charter's architecture can accommodate an RS-DVR, the company, instead, is tightly integrating devices and services from TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO). Charter has already deployed the TiVo Premiere DVR and user interface in Ft. Worth, Texas. Its plan to introduce the service across its footprint by mid-year is delayed because of additional integration and testing between TiVo devices and the operator's Charter's video-on-demand (VoD) back-office systems, executives say. (See Charter Plugs TiVo Into Arris's VoD Back-Office.)
Other strategic priorities
In addition to tweaking its video platform, Charter's strategic plan also calls for focus in three other areas: driving subscription growth with Internet products; boosting commercial service revenues and improving customer service.
Charter says 93 percent of its plant has been upgraded to Docsis 3.0, with 95 percent of its customers taking a service with downstream speeds of 15Mbit/s or higher. The MSO said business services revenues rose by 21.7 percent in the fourth quarter, giving it $583 million for the year. Charter ended the year with 1,400 cell towers on its backhaul product, with another 300-plus under contract. And, the company said, its newest customers are more satisfied with the company's services than tenured subscribers.
The MSO posted a net loss of $67 million, or 63 cents a share, on revenues of $1.83 billion. Revenues were in-line, but Wall Street had expected a loss of 29 cents. Charter lost 49,700 video customers during the quarter, but added 67,000 high-speed Internet customers. It also signed up 27,500 new home phone subscribers, nearly 4,000 fewer than it signed up during the year-ago quarter.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable