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Charter Adds Video Customers, a Rare Feat in the Cable Business

  • Cable giant gained 2,000 TV subscribers in the fourth quarter
  • Charter stands out in industry as pay-TV customers flee

In an industry desperately trying to hang on to customers, Charter Communications Inc.’s announcement that it gained TV subscribers in the fourth quarter was cause to cheer -- no matter how small the victory.

While the increase was meager -- just 2,000 residential video customers for a company that already has 16.5 million -- it marks the first gain since Charter acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in May 2016. In the first three quarters of last year, Charter lost a combined 294,000 TV subscribers.

Gaining Ground

Charter added cable subscribers for the first time since Q1 2016

Source: Bloomberg

Cable companies have struggled in recent years as the rise of low-cost streaming services like Netflix Inc. and YouTube prompt more and more customers to cut their cords. Comcast Corp., the biggest U.S. cable company, posted 33,000 fewer video subscribers in the quarter, while AT&T Inc.’s DirecTV also lost traditional pay-TV customers.

Since completing its acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, Charter has been integrating customers from all three companies onto new pricing and packaging plans. Charter Chief Executive Officer Tom Rutledge had warned that this strategy would mean the company would lose customers in the short-term but acquire longer-lasting subscribers over time. The video subscriber gains this quarter may hint that the company has turned a corner.

— With assistance by Karishma Motwani

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