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Will Comcast (Gasp!) Add Video Subs in Q1?

2:00 AM -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) reports first-quarter numbers Wednesday morning, and some analysts are expecting something out of the ordinary -- that the MSO will report that it added basic video subscribers during the quarter.

That would be a pretty big deal, since Comcast has been on a 20-quarter losing streak in this bread-and-butter category.

ISI Group Inc. analyst Vijay Jayant is pretty bullish on the quarter, forecasting in a research note that Comcast will add 35,000 basic video customers, along with 376,000 new broadband subs, and 208,000 digital voice customers.

"We believe 'official' sell-side consensus forecasts are calling for flat basic video subscriber net adds in 1Q, which would still be an impressive feat for a company that has been bleeding subs for years," Jayant wrote.

Well, considering the recent history, coming out flat would put Comcast on a winning streak of sorts, since it lost only 17,000 video subs in the fourth quarter of 2011, well outpacing analyst expectations and narrowing the gap from the 135,000 subs it lost in the year-ago quarter. (See Comcast Narrows Gap on Video Sub Losses .)

But we'll have to see how Comcast fared. After all, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) was expected to lose about 60,000 video subs in the first quarter, but ended up losing 94,000. (See Broadband & Biz Services Power TWC's Q1 .)

A Comcast video comeback wouldn't surprise everyone. Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. 's Craig Moffett speculated last summer that Comcast could start to see positive numbers as soon as 2013 thanks to its growing video-on-demand (VoD) library and its ability to bundle a solid broadband product. But he was also anticipating the advantages of Comcast's next-gen video product, Xcalibur/X1, which hasn't even been rolled out yet. Regardless, his prediction apparently has a chance of coming true a bit earlier than expected. (See Can Comcast Stop Losing Video Subscribers? and Comcast IDs Cloud TV Product as 'X1' .)

Jayant, meanwhile, says no single factor can be credited for Comcast's recent video subscriber performance, but he does point out that the MSO's video footprint is 100 percent digital and mostly upgraded to Docsis 3.0.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:34:27 PM
re: Will Comcast (Gasp!) Add Video Subs in Q1?

Comcast lost 37,000 basic video subs in Q1, so the losing streak continues. More on Comcast's Q1 results coming soon. JB

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