Comcast Lost 2 Million Pay-TV Subscribers in 2022, Broadband Sub Growth Cools

Comcast’s legacy cable pay-TV business continued an industrywide trend, losing 2 million subscribers in 2022, up from a loss of 1.66 million subs in 2021. The company ended last year with 16.1 million pay-TV subs, which was down about 11% from 18.2 million subs at the end of 2021.

The pay-TV subscriber losses underscore consumers’ ongoing migration from linear TV to alternative video distribution such as Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu and Peacock, among others, and free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platforms.

To help deliver streaming video to consumer households requires high-speed internet service, or broadband. Comcast remains the nation’s largest internet service provider, ending 2022 with more than 32.1 million broadband subscribers.

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At same time, that tally underscored a cooling off of broadband sub growth. The company actually lost 26,000 high-speed internet subs in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2022). That compared with a gain of 212,000 broadband subs in the previous-year period. Comcast attributed the sub losses to the impact of Hurricane Ian in Florida last September.

For the fiscal year, Comcast added 250,000 broadband subs, down 81% from a gain of 1.33 million subs in 2021.

The decline in video subscribers helped lower Q4 programming expenses almost 6% in the quarter, partially offset by contractual rate increases. Programming expenses dipped 2.8% for the fiscal year.

Parks: 114 million U.S. Households Access the Internet at Home

Parks Associates estimates that almost 114 million U.S. households access the internet at home at speeds faster than dial-up, according to a survey of 10,000 U.S. internet households.

“Over the past decade, high-speed internet adoption in the United States — here defined as an internet subscription adoption to the home or individual, with speeds faster than dial-up — has grown steadily since 2015,” Kristen Hanich, director of research at Parks, said in a statement. “These internet households may have home internet service or may rely on mobile internet, or a combination of the two.”

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The research finds that as bundles have become less common, consumer spending on standalone internet service has increased significantly, from an average of $39 per household per month in 2011 to an average of $63 per month in 2021, a 62% growth. Standalone mobile service ARPU has stayed remarkably stable over this time period, with 2021 averages largely reflecting spending levels from 2011 and ARPU actually decreasing since 2016.

“A growing percentage of consumers are relying on fixed wireless or 5G home internet service, which includes services offered by traditional wireless internet service providers or mobile providers such as T-Mobile or U.S. Cellular,” Hanich said. “The wider availability of these services, in addition to further buildouts of traditional fixed networks, will further help to drive home internet adoption over the next few years.”