Bucking the trend among large U.S. cable operators, Suddenlink Communications eked out a small increase in video customers during the first quarter as it boosted subscribers and revenues on all fronts.
Suddenlink, the seventh largest U.S. MSO, reported Tuesday that it added 700 basic video subscribers in the first three months, in contrast to a loss of 2,000 basic subs in the year-ago period. As a result, the company ended March with slightly more than 1.2 million video customers.
The overall video subscriber gains came despite the continued erosion of Suddenlink's dwindling video-only customer base. Company executives said they more than offset those losses by adding more than 10,000 new dual-play and triple-play subscribers. Such bundles now account for nearly two-thirds of the company's video customers.
Suddenlink also netted 15,600 new digital video customers, boosting the total to 853,100, or just over 70 percent of the operator's basic customer base. And it added more advanced digital (HD and/or DVR) subscribers, driving up those totals as well.
Company officials credited at least part of the advanced digital video increases to the growing rollout of TiVo. Under an expanded deal with the home device specialist, Suddenlink is now offering the new TiVo Stream IP video and TiVo Mini set-top boxes as options to subscribers, along with older TiVo set-tops. Suddenlink COO Tom McMillin said almost 14 percent of the company's video customers now have TiVo boxes.
With these increases, Suddenlink reported $289.6 million in video revenue for the first quarter, up 2 percent from $283.8 million in the year-ago period when it actually had 38,000 more video subscribers. Average monthly revenue per basic video sub jumped 9.7 percent to $148.59.
Along with the video gains, Suddenlink racked up increases in high-speed Internet and telephone customers, although the increases were smaller than a year ago. The company added 24,100 broadband subscribers, down from 31,200 a year earlier, to end the quarter with just over 1 million. And it netted 5,800 phone customers, down from 14,600 a year earlier, to close out March with 477,500.
Like most other large U.S. MSOs, Suddenlink continues to make big strides in the commercial (business) services market. The company reported $70.1 million in commercial revenue for the quarter, up 17 percent from a year ago. At that rate, it should reach $300 million in business services revenue for the year.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading