Charter Spectrum Added Pay-TV Subs in 2020

In a trend reversal, Charter Communications Jan. 29 announced it added 19,000 residential video customers in 2020, compared with a decline of 484,000 subs in 2019. Residential video customers decreased by 66,000 in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, while fourth-quarter 2019 residential video customers decreased by 105,000.

Charter ended the year with 16.2 million Spectrum video subs, up from 16.14 million subs in 2019.

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Charter CEO Tom Rutledge

Similarly to other pay-TV operators, Charter is a major high-speed Internet provider, the lifeline to delivering burgeoning over-the-top video consumption in subscriber homes. The company said it ended 2020 with 28.9 million residential and business Internet subscribers, with 2.2 million subs added in 2020 versus 1.4 million added in 2019. Charter added 246,000 broadband subs in the fourth quarter compared to 339,000 during the fourth quarter of 2019.

“Our 2020 performance demonstrates that our customer-friendly operating strategy works well for Charter communities, employees and shareholders, even in challenging economic and operating
environments,” CEO Tom Rutledge said in a statement.

Charter in 2015 was one of the first providers to offer broadband-only subscribers an online TV platform — Spectrum TV Plus — that afforded users access to premium channels for $20 monthly and a free Roku player.

In a Switch: Charter Adds 102,000 Spectrum Video Subs in Q2

In a switch, Charter Communications July 31 announced it added 102,000 Spectrum video subscribers in the second quarter, ended June 30. That compared with a loss of 150,000 video subs in the previous-year period. Charter ended the period with 15.6 million video subs — down 150,000 subs from 15.8 million subs a year ago.

The video additions counter an industrywide trend that has seen major pay-TV operators such as Comcast and AT&T hemorrhage subs to alternative distribution channels, including over-the-top video.

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CEO Tom Rutledge

In prepared comments, CEO Tom Rutledge gave no reason for the video turnaround, except to heap praise and moral support for the good fortune.

“Our ability to grow our services this year for new and existing customers, is a testament to our operating strategy, the quality of our products and our significant investment in systems and people over the last several years,” Rutledge said in a statement.

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To its credit, Spectrum was one of the first pay-TV operators to offer broadband-only subs online TV access through Spectrum TV Plus, which included a free Roku player.

Like other pay-TV operators, Charter is offsetting video uncertainty with high-speed Internet. With SVOD and AVOD platforms reliant on broadband distribution into consumer homes, Charter added 842,000 Spectrum Internet subs in the quarter — up 281% from 221,000 sub ads in the previous-year period. Charter, like Comcast, now has more broadband subs (26.3 million) than video.

“We continue to perform in a difficult and disruptive environment, and all of us at Charter are proud of our work in serving the communities in which we operate,” Rutledge said.

Charter Cuts Q1 Video Sub Loss More Than 50%

Cable operator Charter Communications May 1 disclosed it lost 70,000 Spectrum video subscribers in the first quarter ended March 31. The loss was 54% less than the 152,000 subs lost in the previous-year period.

The distributor added 563,000 high-speed Internet customers, up 41% from 398,000 new broadband subs last year. Spectrum ended the period with 29 million cable, Internet and voice subscribers in 41 states, including 15.5 million video. The latter down 402,000 video subs in the past 12 months.

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Charter several years ago bowed Spectrum TV Plus, a $12.99 monthly online TV service for its broadband-only subs. The service included a free Roku player. Last year Charter unveiled “TV Essentials,” a $15 monthly “skinny bundle” option for pay-TV subs.

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“Thanks to the dedication of our employees and the quality of our network, we have continued to deliver high quality connectivity services to millions of existing and new customers in the communities we serve, including homes, businesses, hospital and educational systems, and local, state and federal government institutions,” longtime CEO Tom Rutledge said in a statement.