Cable TV

Q2-2015: US Cable industry: Internet, biz services continue as growth drivers; video continues to lose subscribers

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BENGALURU: The cable industry in the US continues to bleed video subscribers, albeit slower than earlier, while internet and business services continue to be growth drivers in terms of subscription numbers and revenue, if one were to go by the results reported by five major players in the US for the quarter ended 30 June, 2015 (Q2-2015). Overall, YoY and QoQ subscription numbers or customer relationships of the bigger three of the five players in this report have increased.

The five players in this report are Comcast Inc., Cable Communications segment, the largest player by far among the sample players in this report; Time Warner Cable, Inc., (TWC), a little less than half the size of Comcast’s Cable communications segment in terms of revenue; Charter Communications with revenues that are less than half again as TWC’s. Cablevision, the fourth player in the sample had a little more than two-thirds of Charter’s revenues in Q2-2015, while the smallest, Suddenlink whose major operating areas includeArizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, had revenue that was a little more than a third of Cablevision’s revenue in Q2-2015.  

Despite the continued slide in video customer relationship, the combined sum of video subscribers in Q2-2015 of the five entities is about 4.09 crore or almost two thirds (62 per cent) of the 6.6 crore video subscribers through wire in the US as of 2013. The five players in this report are generally considered amongst the biggest players in the US cable television industry. All have three major revenue streams – Video, Internet and Voice (VIVE).

Note: (a) 100,00,000 = 100 lakh = 10 million = 1 crore

(b) While denominations for $have been mentioned in millions or billions where applicable, denominations for numbers have been mentioned lakhs and crores.

(c)Residential customer relationship numbers have been used in this report wherever the breakup has been mentioned in SEC filings by the concerned entity.

(d) The results and the conclusions in this report may not necessarily reflect the true trends and nature of the cablecommunications industry in US.

It is noteworthy that an even smaller company, Mediacom Broadband alone, without Mediacom LLC numbers, had revenue of about $246 million (Rs 1626.53 crore, ($1 = Rs 63.5363 as on 30 June, 2015) in Q2-2015, many times more than the revenue generated by the largest cable company in India. Mediacom Broadband’s revenue was less than half $608.02 million revenue reported by Suddenlink in Q2-2015.

Performance in Q2-2015

In general, six streams add to most of the five entities’ revenue – three products -Video, high speed Internet, Voice; Business Services (BS); Advertising; and Other. Collectively, the first three have been given the acronym VIVE by the author. Generally VIVE numbers, be they subscription or revenue indicate residential subscribers and revenue from these subscribers in this report. Some of the companies don’t indicate the breakup of VIVE revenue from business services, and hence these figures could be included in the overall VIVE revenue .This reports examines VIVE and touches briefly upon business services of some of the players in this report later on.

In general, Internet has been driving growth, both in terms of revenue and subscription numbers. Contribution by business services is growing and is in the sub or low double digits in terms of percentage of overall revenue.

Subscription numbers in Q2-2015

Figure A below displays the subscription numbers of the five players considered in this report. Individual as well as combined Video subscribers or Video customer relationships have dropped year-on-year (YoY) and quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) during Q2-2015. Internet subscription numbers of all the five players in this report have increased, while Voice subscription numbers of four of the five companies have gone up. Cablevision has reported a small dip in Voice subscription numbers in Q2-2015.

YoY and QoQ combined Total Customer Relationships of all the five players have gone up in Q2-2015 by 2.03 per cent and 0.24 per cent respectively. In Q2-2015, the combined Total Customer Relationships of all the five companies was 525.64 lakh as compared to 515.19 lakh in Q2-2014 and 524.41 lakh in Q1-2015. Though QoQ customer relationships of all the five companies have gone up, in the case of Cablevision and Suddenlink, customer relationships were actually lower in Q2-2015. Cablevision saw a decline 1.52 per cent in Q2-2015 to 31.17 lakh as compared to the 31.65 lakh in Q2-2014, while Suddenlink saw a QoQ decline of 0.86 per cent to 14.39 lakh in Q2-2015 from 14.52 lakh.

Video

As mentioned above, the US Cable communications industry continues to lose video customers. YoY, the combined Total Customer Relationships declined 1.53 per cent to 409.40 lakh in Q2-2015 as compared to the 415.74 lakh. QoQ the decline was 0.47 per cent from 411.32 lakh. Suddenlink saw the highest YoY drop among the five players in this report in Video subscribers at 5.66 per cent (lost 66200 subscribers) to 11.03 lakh in the current quarter as compared to 11.69 lakh in Q2-2014. Suddenlink’s YoY decline in Video customers was also the steepest among the five companies at 2.6 per cent (lost 29400 subscribers) from 11.32 lakh in Q1-2015. 

In absolute numbers, TWC had the highest YoY decline of video subscribers among the five players in the current quarter of 2.27 lakh to 107.74 lakh from 110.11 lakh. QoQ, Comcast’s Cable communications has seen the largest fall in absolute numbers among the 5 companies, a fall of 69,000 (0.31 per cent) Video subscribers in Q2-2015 to 223.06 lakh from 223.75 lakh in the immediate trailing quarter.

Internet

Overall, the five entities reported a 6.07 per cent YoY increase in Internet subscribers in Q2-2015 at a combined total of 436.33 lakh from 411.36 lakh in the corresponding year ago quarter and a one per cent increase from 432.01 lakh in the immediate trailing quarter. The five entities gained 24.965 lakh subscribers YoY and 4.322 lakh subscribers QoQ in Q2-2015. As is obvious, the number of internet subscribers exceeds the number of video subscribers.

All the five companies in this report witnessed a YoY increase in Internet subscribers. Charter had highest growth in percentage terms at 8.6 per cent ( gained 3.93 lakh subscribers) increase in Internet subscription in Q2-2015 with the subscriber base reaching 49.61 lakh from 45.68 lakh in the corresponding year ago quarter and 1.43 per cent higher (gained 70000 subscribers) QoQ from 48.91 lakh. 

QoQ, both TWC (gained 7.47 lakh subscribers) and Charter reported 1.43 per cent growth in Q2-2015, while Comcast and Cablevsion reported 0.80 (gained 1.79 lakh subscribers) and 0.51 growth (gained 14000 subscribers) in Internet subscribers. Suddenlink reported a slight QoQ decline of 0.24 per cent (lost 2800 subscribers) to 11.81 lakh in the current quarter as compared to the 11.84 lakh in the immediate trailing quarter.

In absolute numbers, Comcast Cable Communications reported the highest YoY and QoQ Internet subscription growth among the five companies in Q2-2015 at 12.77 lakh (six per cent) and 1.79 lakh (0.80 per cent) respectively.

Voice

The five entities reported a 6.19 per cent YoY growth and a 1.48 per cent QoQ growth in combined Total Voice Subscriber base of 224.55 lakh in Q2-2015. This translates to a YoY increase of 13.092 lakh and QoQ increase of 3.275 lakh subscribers in absolute numbers.

Except for Cablevision, the other four players reported YoY and QoQ increase in subscription numbers. Cablevison reported a YoY decline of 2.86 per cent (65000) and a QoQ decline of 0.32 per cent (7000) in Voice Subscribers in Q2-2015 to 22.08 lakh from 22.73 lakh in Q2-2014 and from 22.15 lakh in Q1-2015 respectively.

The highest YoY growth in Voice subscribers among the five players in this report in Q2-2015 in percentage as well as absolute numbers was 17.71 per cent and 8.81 lakh by TWC, which saw its numbers grow to 58.56 lakh from 47.75 crore in Q2-2014. TWC also reported the highest QoQ growth in percentage and absolute terms in Voice subscribers among the five players by 4.5 per cent and 2.52 lakh to 58.56 lakh in Q2-2015.

Single, double and triple play numbers

Four of the five players have indicated the breakup of their single, double and triple play customer relationships.

Generally, all have been losing single play and double play subscribers either because of conversion from single to double or triple play, or from double to triple play, or because of subscriber churn, while Suddnelink has also reported numbers than indicate growth in its non-video customer relationships.

Revenue numbers in Q2-2015

Please refer to Fig A1 below. Combined Total revenue of all the five players in this report increased YoY 2.46 per cent ($517 million) to $21566 million from $21049 million in Q2-2014, but declined 0.2 per cent ($43 million) from $21609 million in Q1-2015. Charter saw the largest YoY increase of total revenue in percentage terms among the five at 7.57 per cent ($171 million) in Q2-2014. In absolute numbers, Comcast Cable Communications segment reported the highest YoY growth of total revenue of $700 million (6.35 per cent) and QoQ growth of $399 million (2.62 per cent) in the current quarter. QoQ, Suddenlink saw the highest growth in Total revenue among the 5 players in percentage terms of 3.36 per cent ($28 million) in Q2-2015.

Combined YoY and QoQ VIVE revenues of all the five entities increased 5.15 per cent ($890 million) and 1.43 per cent ($257 million) respectively in Q2-2015$ 18170 million. Here also, Charter reported the highest YoY growth in percentage terms of VIVE revenue of 7.07 per cent ($134 million) in Q2-2015. QoQ, Suddenlink reported the highest growth among the five players in percentage terms at 3.49 per cent ($31 million) in the current quarter.

As far as absolute US dollars are concerned, Comcast’s Cable Communications segment reported the highest YoY and QoQ growth at $455 million (5.07 per cent) and $154 million (1.66 per cent) respectively in Q2-2015.

Among the three products, Video was the biggest contributor to revenue of all the five companies in this report. Video’s contribution to VIVE revenue was in the range of 50 to 60 per cent. Internet contributed between 25 and 35 per cent and Voice between 6 to 17 per cent to VIVE revenue.

YoY, combined Total Video and combined Total Internet revenue increased by 2.04 per cent and 13.22 per cent respectively, while Voice revenue declined by 1.89 per cent. QoQ, Video, Internet and Voice revenue in Q2-2015 increased by 1.08 per cent, 2.41 per cent and 0.15 per cent respectively.

Video

Despite a drop in Video Customer Relationships, combined Total Video revenue YoY increased by $204 million and increased QoQ by $109 million to $10198 million in Q2-2015. The highest increase in Video revenue among the five players was by Comcast at 3.66 per cent and $192 million in Q2-2015, while Suddenlink saw its Video Revenue drop by 0.68 per cent and $2 million in Q2-2015.

Internet

Combined Internet revenue of the five players in this report increased by 13.22 per cent and $720 million YoY and increased QoQ by 2.41 per cent and $145 million to $$6171.4 million in Q2-2015.

The highest YoY as well as QoQ growth in percentage terms of Internet revenue among the five players was by Suddenlnk with 17.07 per cent ($31 million) and 4.40 per cent ($9 million) respectively in the current quarter. In absolute US dollar terms, Comcast Cableshowed the highest YoY and QoQ growth at $282 million (10 per cent) and $57 million (1.87 per cent) respectively.

Voice

Though Voice subscription numbers have been growing, the combined Voice revenue of the 5 players declined YoY by 1.89 per cent ($35 million) to $1800 million. The combined voice revenue of the players increased marginally QoQ by 0.15 per cent ($3 million) in the current quarter. 

The big three players – Comcast Cable Communications, TWC and Charter saw their YoY Voice revenue decline by 2.06 per cent ($19 million), 2.45 per cent ($12 million) and 6.9 per cent ($10 million) respectively. Cablevision and Suddenlink saw their YoY Voice revenue increase by 2.2 per cent ($5 million) and 2.53 per cent ($1 million) respectively.

Comcast Cable Communications and Suddenlink saw their QoQ Voice revenues drop 0.33 per cent ($3 million) and 0.48 per cent ($0.25 million) in the current quarter, while TWC and Charter saw their YoY Voice revenues increase by 1.06 per cent ($5 million) and 0.75 per cent (one million) respectively . Cablevision’s Voice revenue remained flat in Q1-2015 and Q2-2015 at $232 million.

Comcast Cable, TWC and Charter have indicated business services revenue in their quarterly filings. Please refer to Fig B below. As is obvious, business services revenue (BSR) has been going up in value as well as in terms of percentage of Overall or Total Revenue (OR)

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