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Getting the Basics

The private life remained a good one for Insight Communications Co. Inc. , as it continues to represent the exception rather than the rule on basic sub growth.

While some of its larger MSO peers bled subs through the third quarter of 2007 (we'll hold our breath when the fourth quarter numbers roll in) and saw their respective stocks head to the dumpster, Insight said it ended the year with 35,000 basic customer net additions, a growth rate of 5.4 percent.

Not exactly an out-of-the-ordinary event for Insight, which reported 4 percent basic growth in 2006, and a 2.2 percent rise in 2005.

So things are looking up for the MSO, which went private in late 2005 and just recently dissolved a Midwest cable partnership with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) that all but cut Insight's subscriber base in half. (See Comcast Takes Control.)

Oh, and Insight also claimed record-breaking growth last year for its voice and high-speed services, adding 68,000 and 78,000 new subs respectively. "I haven't seen these levels of growth since the earliest days of cable," said Insight CEO and vice chairman Michael Willner.

Lucky him.

So what's next for the new, slim and trim version of the MSO, which now claims 722,000 "customer relationships" in parts of Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio? Should it get out while the gettin's good, or should it wave its magic wand on some new systems?

Insight was unsuccessful in its attempts to sell off the rest of its systems, although Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) was among those that actually made its interest in Insight known. (See Time Warner Seeking Insight .)

With subs on the rise and the operational side of the house clearly in order, perhaps it makes sense for Insight to embark on a growth path based on acquisitions. Why not continue to zig while the rest of the cable industry appears to be zagging?

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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