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Video services

Charter's Ups & Downs

Like its fellow MSOs, Charter Communications Inc. suffered a decline in video subscribers during the first quarter of 2013, even as its Internet customer base and overall revenues grew. (See Comcast Suffers Q1 Video Subs Setback.) Revenue was up 4.9 percent compared with a year ago to US$1.9 billion, with residential revenue increasing 4.1 percent, and commercial revenue (from enterprise/business customers) jumping 19.6 percent. While video penetration dropped 2.1 percent during that period -- with the number of video subscribers falling from 4.16 million to 3.97 million -- video revenues still grew, rising 6.8 percent to $956 million from $895 million in the first quarter of 2012. Internet revenue increased 10.8 percent to $501 million as the company gained 99,000 customers to take its Internet customer base to 3.88 million, and voice revenue dropped a substantial 21.2 percent to $171 million. Commercial services have now surpassed the telephony business for Charter, with revenue from business customers coming in at $183 million during the first quarter. Charter CEO Tom Rutledge has been responsible for the cable company's turnaround since taking over the top job in December 2011. That job hasn't been easy, given that Charter only emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, and the once financially stretched company has faced ongoing competition from telecom and satellite providers, as well as new over-the-top video services. However, the CEO, a former top Cablevision Systems executive, appears to have a working strategy in place. The Rutledge roadmap includes a transition to all-digital video systems by the end of 2014, the introduction of downloadable security for set-top boxes and a heightened focus on commercial services growth. (See Charter CEO Says Growth is Path to Glory.) In a prepared statement, Rutledge noted, "While we still have more work to do, significant progress is evident in our first quarter results." — Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable
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