Report: 1 Million U.S. Homes Added Broadband in Q1, Down From 2020

The nation’s top multichannel video providers may be losing subscribers to over-the-top video distribution, but the same providers are also the top ISPs — delivering the broadband required to stream Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video into homes.

New data from Leichtman Research found that the largest cable and telecom providers in the U.S. — representing about 96% of the market — acquired more than 1 million net broadband subscribers in 1Q 2021 — down 13% from a gain of about 1.17 million subs in 1Q 2020.

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The broadband providers now account for about 107 million subs, with cable companies having about 73.7 million broadband subs, telecoms having about 33.3 million subscribers.

The top cable companies added about 935,000 subs in 1Q 2021 — 76% of the net additions for the top cable companies in 1Q 2020. Telecoms added about 85,000 total broadband subs in 1Q 2021 — compared with a net loss of about 60,000 subs in 1Q 2020

Net broadband losses among non-fiber telecom subs were more than offset by gains of more than 400,000 net fiber subs, bringing the number of telecom fiber broadband subs to about 14.6 million.

“This broadband growth marked the fourth time in the past five quarters that there were more than one million net broadband additions in the U.S.,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “Over the past year, there were about 4.66 million net broadband adds, compared to about 2.76 million net broadband adds over the prior year.”

Broadband Providers Subscribers at end of 1Q 2021 Net Adds in 1Q 2021
Cable Companies
Comcast 31 million 460,000
Charter 29.2 million 355,000
Cox 5.4 million 55,000
Altice 4.4 million 11,600
Mediacom 1.5 million 16,000
Cable One 880,000 23,000
WOW (Wide Open West) 823,800 10,000
Atlantic Broadband 511,004 6,383
Total Top Cable 73.7 million 936,983
Wireline Phone Companies
AT&T 15.4 million 51,000
Verizon 7.2 million 64,000
CenturyLink/Lumen^ 4.7 million (39,000)
Frontier 3 million (17,000)
Windstream 1.12 million 13,000
Consolidated 794,224 2,024
TDS 501,700 8,400
Cincinnati Bell 437,600 1,500
Total Top Telco 33.3 million 83,924
Total Top Broadband 107 million 1.02 million

Parks: Lower Smart Home Device Pricing Could Add Broadband Households

A new industry report from Parks Associates reveals that among the 42% of U.S. broadband households who do not own and do not plan to buy a smart home device, 17% admit they would likely buy a device if the cost were lower. Capturing these consumers at the right price point would add 7.9 million more households to the population of smart home owners.

Smart home devices include appliances, thermostats, lights, alarms, doorbells, cameras, televisions, Blu-ray Disc players, sound bars and voice-activated speakers, among other devices.

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In Parks’ Q4 2020 survey, affordability of smart home devices ranks as the most important purchase consideration among purchase intenders. Discounting product prices and bundling products in ways that strengthen value are critical strategies to attract the majority of consumers who rank affordability in their top three purchase considerations. Bundling of smart home devices such as smart plugs, smart light bulbs, or smart thermostats with a smart speaker can introduce the smart home experience to consumers through a leading entertainment device that can be used to stream music and control smart home functions, according to Parks.

More than 50% of U.S. broadband households that do not own or intend to purchase a smart home device, report they do not see any benefits to smart home ownership, although this attitude is more prevalent among older consumers.

“Messaging that highlights strong product value helps overcome price sensitivity and counters the perceived lack of a viable value proposition,” analyst Patrice Samuels said in a statement. “Familiarity with devices is increasing, but value perception is not. Brands must emphasize pragmatic value propositions such as energy savings, loss prevention, and safety to persuade the broad swatch of broadband households that do not see any benefit or value in owning smart home devices.”

Comcast Loses 491,000 Pay-TV Subs in 90 Days, Expects ‘Elevated’ Sub Losses in Q2

Comcast Cable April 29 reported it lost 491,000 pay-TV subscribers in the first quarter (ended March 31). The tally, which included 87,000 business subscribers, topped the previous-year period loss of 409,000 subscribers. Comcast ended the quarter with 19.3 million subs — down 1.5 million subs from the same period in 2020.

The nation’s largest cable operator attributed the subscriber losses to ongoing consumer shifts to over-the-top video distribution — a trend that isn’t slowing down.

“We expect video losses in the second quarter [ended June 30] will remain elevated,” CEO Mike Cavanagh said on the fiscal call.

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That transition has become a boon to Comcast’s high-speed Internet business, a pre-requisite for streaming video. As one of the largest ISPs in the country, Comcast added 461,000 broadband subs, which was actually down from 477,000 additions in the previous-year period. The tally includes business subscribers.

Notably, video revenue of $5.6 billion was consistent with the prior-year period, reflecting a decrease in the number of residential video customers offset by an increase in average subscriber rates.

Report: Pandemic Drove 4.9 Million Broadband Additions Among Top ISPs in 2020

With more consumers housebound due to the pandemic, subscriptions for high-speed Internet, or broadband, grew significantly, according to new data from Leichtman Research Group. The Durham, N.H.-based firm found that the largest cable and wireline phone providers in the U.S. — representing about 96% of the market — acquired more than 4.8 million net additional broadband Internet subscribers in 2020, compared with a gain of about 2.55 million subs in 2019.

The following broadband providers now account for 105.8 million subs, with cable companies accounting for 72.8 million broadband subs, and telecoms having 33 million subs.

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Overall, broadband additions in 2020 were 190% higher than in 2019, and more than in any year since 2008. Cable companies added about 4.82 million subs compared to 3.15 million adds in 2019, and the most in any year since 2006.

Charter’s 2.21 million broadband additions were more than any company had in a year since 2006. Telecoms added about 40,000 subs compared to a loss of about 590,000 subs in 2019. The industry had positive net annual broadband adds for the first time since 2014. At the end of 2020, cable had a 69% market share vs. 31% for telecoms.

“With the impact of the pandemic, there were more net broadband additions in 2020 than in any year since 2008,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “The top cable and telecom providers in the U.S. cumulatively added about 4.86 million subs in 2020, compared to about 5.1 million subs in 2018 and 2019 combined.”

Broadband Providers Subscribers at end of 4Q 2020 Net Adds in 2020
Cable Companies
Comcast 30.6 million 1.97 million
Charter 28.9 million 2.21 million
Cox 5.38 million 210,000
Altice 4.36 million 142,200
Mediacom 1.43 million 110,000
Cable One 857,000 101,000
WOW 813,800 32,300
Atlantic Broadband 504,621 37,871
Total Top Cable 72.8 million 4.82 million
Telecoms
AT&T 15.4 million (5,000)
Verizon 7.12 million 173,000
CenturyLink/Lumen 4.54 million (134,000)
Frontier 3.1 million (111,000)
Windstream 1.1 million 60,000
Consolidated 792,200 8,035
TDS 493,300 38,100
Cincinnati Bell 436,100 10,400
Total Telecom 32.9 million 39,535
Total Broadband 105.8 million 4.85 million
Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.

Parks: More Than 12 Million U.S. Households Have Cut Broadband Service

Parks Associates reported that more than 12 million U.S. households have canceled their home broadband service and use only mobile broadband for their Internet needs. The Dallas-based research firm finds there are more than 15 million domestic households that have only a mobile broadband service, which includes more than three million households that have never had home high-speed Internet service.

The finding is noteworthy since high-speed Internet access is key to over-the-top video consumption, and mobile broadband service providers cap user data at a far lower rate than traditional ISPs. Indeed, Comcast, arguably the largest broadband provider in the country, added two million high-speed subscribers in 2020.

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“High cost is the most prominent issue driving households to cut the cord and go mobile only, although service-related issues, from slow speeds to poor customer experience, also contribute,” analyst Kristen Hanich said in a statement.

Currently 94% of all U.S. broadband households use Wi-Fi networking at home, and more than half report problems with their Internet. Parks found that “smart Wi-Fi,” or mesh networking products that would improve Wi-Fi coverage are powerful incentives to staunch churn, as 75% of households likely to switch would stay with their current provider if offered these solutions.

The study said broadband ability to deliver the necessary speeds are more critical now as 41% of broadband households were engaged in remote work or remote schooling. The increase in at-home activity has renewed consumers’ focus on their broadband speeds.

“In September 2020, 9% of broadband households had upgraded their home’s broadband service in the previous 12 months, and the COVID-19 crisis was the main reason for 80% of those upgrades,” Hanich said.

Parks: 24% of U.S. Broadband Households Likely to Upgrade Service in Next Six Months

In an over-the-top video world, high-speed Internet service is a requisite. Parks Associates Feb. 11 released new data revealing that in Q3 2020, more than 50% of U.S. broadband households reported that their broadband usage had increased since the start of the COVID-19 crisis — which has seen an increase in at-home activities including work and schooling. While consumers report broadband performance is keeping pace with the increased demand, in Q3 2020, 24% of fixed broadband households reported plans to upgrade their speed in the next six months, compared with 18% in Q2 2020.

The largest cable and wireline phone providers in the U.S. — representing about 96% of the market — acquired about 1.53 million new broadband subscribers in Q3 2020, compared with a gain of about 615,000 subscribers in Q3 2019, according to Leichtman Research.

These top broadband providers now account for about 104.9 million subscribers, with top cable companies having about 72 million broadband subscribers, and top wireline phone companies having about 32.9 million subscribers.

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“Broadband upgrade plans indicate many households see some COVID-19-related changes as permanent,” analyst Steve Nason said in a statement. “For video services, OTT service stacking has been particularly pronounced, with 45% of U.S. broadband households subscribing to three or more services. Many consumers are planning to add new services such as Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Peacock as a permanent part of their OTT service portfolio, beyond the traditional Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.”

Parks found that the pandemic continues to widen the OTT/pay-TV gap. As many consumers across the U.S. remain homebound, they are continually relying on video content to fill their time outside of work and school. Within video services, COVID-19 has accelerated the trend of video viewers accessing OTT offerings at much higher rates than a pay-TV service via a traditional or online provider.

“Many traditional pay-TV subscribers are migrating to online pay-TV offerings or standalone OTT services,” Nason said. “Traditional providers, who still comprise the majority of the pay-TV market, have to continually seek ways to integrate online video services into their offerings either through homegrown solutions or external partnerships.”

1.53 Million Homes Added Broadband in Q3 — The Most in 11 Years

As pay-TV operators continue to hemorrhage video subscribers to cord-cutting and over-the-top alternatives, a silver lining has emerged: high-speed Internet. Linear TV providers have become broadband gatekeepers enabling households to access the World Wide Web while offering a fiscal lifeline to an industry in flux.

New data from Leichtman Research Group found that the largest cable and wireline phone providers in the U.S. — representing about 96% of the market — acquired about 1.53 million net additional broadband Internet subscribers in 3Q 2020, compared with a pro forma gain of about 615,000 subs in 3Q 2019.

These top broadband providers now account for about 104.9 million subscribers, with top cable companies having about 72 million broadband subs, and top wireline phone companies having about 32.9 million subs.

Findings for the quarter include:

  • Overall, broadband additions in 3Q 2020 were about 915,000 more than in 3Q 2019.
  • Broadband additions in 3Q 2020 were the most in any quarter since 1Q 2009.
  • The top cable companies added about 1,320,000 subscribers in 3Q 2020 — compared with a net gain of about 830,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019.
  • Cable broadband had over one million net adds for the third consecutive quarter — the first time since 3Q 2006 to 1Q 2007.
  • Comcast’s 633,000 net adds in 3Q 2020 were more than in any quarter in the past 15 years.
  • The top wireline phone companies added about 210,000 subscribers in 3Q 2020 – compared to a net loss of about 220,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019

 

“With the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there were more quarterly net broadband additions in 3Q 2020 than in any quarter in over eleven years,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “Over the past year, there were about 4.55 million net broadband adds, compared with about 2.55 million net broadband adds over the prior year. This marks the most broadband net adds in a year since 3Q 2008 to 2Q 2009.”

Broadband Providers Subscribers at end of 3Q 2020 Net Adds in 3Q 2020
Cable Companies
Comcast 30.06 million 633,000
Charter 28.63 million 537,000
Cox 5.33 million 50,000
Altice 4.36 million 26,000
Mediacom 1.42 million 29,000
Cable One 865,000 27,000
WOW (WideOpenWest) 808,900 3,300
Atlantic Broadband 492,212 13,523
Total Top Cable 71.97 million 1.31 million
Wireline Phone Companies
AT&T 15.37 million 174,000
Verizon 7.06 million 110,000
CenturyLink/Lumen^ 4.56 million (75,000)
Frontier 3.11 million (23,000)
Windstream 1.10 million 12,900
Consolidated 792,211 1,008
TDS 487,700 8,200
Cincinnati Bell 434,500 2,500
Total Top Telco 32.94 million 210,608
Total Top Broadband 104.92 million 1.53 million

 

Broadband Added 1.25 Million U.S. Households in Q2; Largest Gain in Eight Years

If there’s a silver lining for pay-TV distributors hemorrhaging video subscribers, it’s high-speed Internet. Linear TV subs dropping service are doing so for alternative home entertainment channels delivered over the Web. To get that distribution requires broadband, which most pay-TV operators deliver.

New data from Leichtman Research Group found that the largest cable and telephone providers in the U.S. — representing about 96% of the market — acquired about 1.24 million net additional broadband Internet subscribers in the second quarter, ended June 30, which was up 233% from a gain of about 375,000 subs in the previous-year period.

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These top broadband providers now account for about 103.3 million subs, with top cable companies having 70.6 million broadband subs, and top wireline phone companies having 32.7 million subs.

Findings for the quarter include:

  • Overall, broadband additions in 2Q 2020 were about 870,000 more than in 2Q 2019;
  •  Broadband additions overall were the most in any quarter since 1Q 2012;
  • The top cable companies added about 1,400,000 subscribers in 2Q 2020 — compared to a net gain of about 530,000 subscribers in 2Q 2019;
  • Cable broadband net additions were the most in any quarter since 1Q 2007;
  • Charter’s 850,000 net adds in 2Q 2020 were more than for any provider in any previous quarter;
  • The top wireline phone companies had a net loss of about 155,000 subscribers in 2Q 2020 — compared to a net loss of about 160,000 subscribers in 2Q 2019.

 

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“With the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there were more quarterly net broadband additions in 2Q, than in any quarter in eight years,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “In the first half of 2020, there were over 2.4 million net broadband additions. This is the most net adds in the first half of any year since 2008.”

In-Flight Entertainment Company GoGo Looks to Sell Commercial Aviation Business; Lays Off 143 Staff

With the airline industry waylaid by the coronavirus pandemic, GoGo, a company offering high-speed Internet access and video entertainment to air travelers, is confronting the economic reality by letting go of 143 fulltime employees on Aug. 14, and implementing executive pay cuts. This followed a four-month furlough of more than 50% of the workforce, or more than 600 employees.

In pre-COVID-19 times, GoGo averaged 37 million airline passengers a month paying from $7/hour to $600 annually to use the company’s broadband service on flights. In April, that plummeted to 1.9 million passengers, down 95%.

“It has been an extraordinary quarter, but for all the wrong reasons,” CEO Oakleigh Thorne said on the fiscal call. “I think I can sum it up by saying that if you sell Internet on airplanes and no one’s on the plane, it’s tough.”

Quarterly revenue dropped 55% to $96.6 million from the second quarter of 2019 due to the impact of COVID-19 on demand for both domestic and international air travel. Service revenue of $74.3 million declined by 57% from Q2 2019, driven primarily by declines in commercial aviation. Equipment revenue 44% to $22.4 million from Q2 2019, driven by reduced shipment and installation activity across all three segments.

Net loss increased to $86 million, increased from $84 million in Q2 2019 — the latter loss including the extinguishment of debt of $58 million.

Parks: Adoption of Standalone Broadband Service Increases 42% — Driven by Streaming Video

In an over-the-top video ecosystem, demand for high-speed Internet service, or broadband, continues to remain strong. New consumer research from Parks Associates finds the market for standalone Internet service (excluding pay-TV, telephone) rising from 34% in 2017 to 42% in 1Q 2020.

Parks found the average standalone broadband subscriber now pays $60 per month for service, which increased by 36% from 1Q 2012 to 3Q 2019, while payment for TV plus Internet services increased from $107 to only $127 over the same time period.

“Data speed is the primary driver of [average revenue per broadband user],” David Drury, research director, Parks Associates, said in a statement. “In other words, speed rather than the number of [value-added services] broadly determines ARPU levels, even though those with higher speeds also have a higher number of VAS.”


Coronavirus-related changes in the needs of broadband households indicated that many consumers are likely trying many VAS for the first time, particularly telehealth, video conference, and remote learning tools. The increase in consumer need for these services represents an enormous opportunity to grow these markets even after the crisis passes, according to Parks.

The research finds nearly one-half of U.S. broadband households receive at least one value-added service from their service provider, but these services are generally included at no additional cost. The most commonly adopted VAS are support, antivirus, streaming video, and Wi-Fi services. AT&T and Suddenlink by Altice subscribers have the highest number of VAS adopted overall, combining both free and paid services.

“Broadband growth has plateaued, so the next opportunity is in VAS,” Drury said. “Providers have generally used VAS as a marketing tool to attract and retain subscribers, so for them to make the transition to a revenue source, companies need a clear understanding of the gaps in consumer satisfaction and demand for strategic and successful VAS deployments.”