Comcast Lost 144,000 Cable Subscribers Last Quarter. And They're Psyched About It!

A blog about business and economics.
July 22 2014 2:04 PM

Why Comcast Sees Losing 144,000 Cable Subscribers as a Win

120284039-sign-stands-in-front-of-a-comcast-customer-service
Comcast didn't lose as many video subscribers this quarter as it thought it would.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Comcast rose modestly this morning after reporting better-than-expected results for the second quarter. It was a pleasant about-face for the cable operator, which spent the past week taking flack for what might have been the worst customer service call of all time. Net income beat analysts' forecasts at nearly $2 billion, and Comcast also added 203,000 users to its high-speed Internet service in Q2, more than the 161,000 additions that analysts expected.

More interesting is this line from Comcast's quarterly report: "Video Customer Net Losses Declined to 144,000; The Best Second Quarter Result in Six Years." Best second-quarter result in six years? Comcast must have seen some pretty brutal second quarters. To some extent, that's seasonal: Comcast customers include students who cancel their TV subscriptions at the end of a school year and summer vacationers who terminate their service before hitting the road.

Advertisement

At the same time, households cutting the cord on cable services is an industrywide problem. The number of Americans paying for TV through cable, satellite, or fiber services slid by more than 250,000 in 2013, according to data from research firm SNL Kagan. Though people have seen this coming for quite some time, the pay-TV industry had never suffered a quarterly subscriber decline before 2010.

Comcast might have lost 144,000 cable customers this time around, but that was better than the 162,000 it dropped a year ago, and followed two consecutive quarters of actually growing its TV subscribers. From Comcast's perspective, stemming the flow in the latest quarter might be enough of a win. Maybe those horrid policies it has for "retention" specialists are doing the trick after all.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful, a new book argues.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 30 2014 1:23 PM What Can Linguistics Tell Us About Writing Better? An Interview with Steven Pinker.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.