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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 04, 2010

Time Warner Cable Loses More Cable-TV Subscribers

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable, Inc., lost more cable-TV subscribers in the latest quarter than it ever has before, raising the question if Internet video is cutting into the cable business, The AP said.

The AP reports that cable executives have dismissed the idea that "cord-cutting" is due to the encroachment of the Internet and increasing options for watching video online.

Instead, cable executives have blamed the speedup in subscriber flight on the weak economy, according to The AP.

Time Warner Cable reported losing 155,000 video subscribers in the latest quarter, compared with 64,000 a year ago, when the economy was worse, according to The AP.

Time Warner Cable Inc. is the second-largest cable company in the United States. The only larger cable company, Comcast (News - Alert) Corp., reported last week that its subscriber loss more than doubled in the third quarter, to 275,000, The AP reported.

Time Warner Chief Operating Officer, Landel Hobbs, said the company hasn't been able to identify any "cord-cutting" in favor of Internet video. The biggest subscriber losses have been among people who don't have cable broadband, he said. These people seem to be going to satellite or giving up on pay TV entirely.

On the theory that college students might be among the first to drop cable TV, the company looked at changes in subscriber figures in college towns such as Austin, Texas, and found that they corresponded to the level of student enrollment, The AP said.

Whatever the reason for subscriber flight, cable companies are compensating for the loss of subscribers by selling more services to the remaining customers.

New York-based Time Warner Cable said its third-quarter net income was $360 million, or $1 per share, up from $268 million, or 76 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 5.2 percent to $4.73 billion, from $4.5 billion.

Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard