Cable TV

US Cable TV Industry Report: Video Subscribers again up, Business Services revenue continues to climb

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BENGALURU: For the second consecutive quarter, three of the biggest cable TV entities in the US have reported quarter-over-quarter (q-o-q) growth in video subscribers, along with the regular increase in overall video revenue for the quarter ended 31 March 2016 (Q-16, current quarter). Q1-16 also saw year-over-year (y-o-y) growth in video revenue and subscribers. Despite the increase in video subscribers, the percentage of subscribers opting for video services vis-à-vis customer relationships has declined both y-o-y and q-o-q. Another player – Verizon reported adding 36,000 net video subscribers to its wireline Fios video services in the current quarter. Overall revenue numbers were up, with video revenue increasing along with revenues from other services and streams.

Comcast Cable Communications segment, Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Charter Communications (Charter) are the three sample players whose numbers have been used in this paper to arrive at generalisations for the US Cable TV industry. All have three major revenue streams – Video, Internet and Voice (VIVE). Besides VIVE, other revenue streams include advertisement and ‘others’. It may be noted that Charter Communications has completed the transactions with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, and soon the name of the products offered by the joined entity will be under the brand Spectrum.

Business Services Revenue continued to grow in Q1-16. Contribution by Business Services to overall revenue also continued to grow in the current quarter while contributing to the growth of overall Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for the players as well. Another factor that contributed to overall ARPU increase was the growth in percentage of Triple Play consumers in overall customer relationships. Broadband or High Speed internet segments of the three players reported the highest growth among the three major service streams, with Voice showing the next highest growth. Video grew the least among the three services.

According to a US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report, the total number of Cable TV Subscribers in the US in 2012 and 2013 were 56.4 million and 54.4 million respectively. Considering the higher value of 56.4 million, the 3 players in this paper have about two thirds of the cable TV subscribers in the US. According to industry reports, the cable providers industry in the US is highly concentrated, with the top five players generating over 96 percent of revenue.

Comcast Inc., Cable Communications (Comcast CCS) segment is the largest player by far in the US and among the sample players; Time Warner Cable, Inc., (TWC), about half the size of Comcast’s Cable communications segment in terms of revenue and Charter Communications (Charter) with revenues that are less than half again as much as TWC’s.

Subscription numbers, revenues

Please refer to Figures A1 and A2 below.

In Q1-16, the combined video subscription numbers of the three players increased 0.6 percent y-o-y to 37.574 million (74.4 percent of combined customer relationships) as compared to 37.473 million (77.8 percent of combined customer relationships) and increased 0.2 percent q-o-q from 37.490 million (76.3 percent of combined customer relationships).

Combined customer relationships in the current quarter increased 5.1 percent y-o-y to 50.488 million as compared to 48.020 million and increased 2.8 percent q-o-q from 49.114 million.

Combined video revenues in Q1-16 increased 3.2 percent y-o-y to $9,216 million (44 percent of combined total revenue) from $8,929 million (45.6 percent of combined total revenue) and increased 1.8 percent q-o-q from $9,058 million (44 percent of combined total revenue.

Combined total revenue in Q1-16 increased 6.9 percent y-o-y to $20,925 million from $19.569 million and increased 1.8 percent q-o-q from $20,564 million.

Note 1:
(a)Residential customer relationship numbers have been used in this report wherever the breakup has been mentioned in SEC filings by the concerned entity. In the case Comcast Cable Communications segment, the breakup of subscription numbers in terms of Residential and Business Services has not been indicated.
(b) The results and the conclusions in this report may not necessarily reflect the true trends and nature of the cable communications industry in US.

Comcast Cable Communications (Comcast CCS)

Comcast’s CCS segment reported 0.2 percent y-o-y growth in video subscribers at 22.4 million (80.1 percent of customer relationships) in the current as compared to 22.375 million (82.2 percent of customer relationships) in Q1-15 and a 0.1 percent q-o-q growth as compared to 22.347 million (80.7 percent of customer relationships) in Q4-15.

Customer relationships in the current quarter increased 2.7 percent y-o-y to 27.970 million from27.234 million and increased 1 percent q-o-q from 27.701 million.

Video revenue increased 3.9 percent y-o-y in the current quarter to $5,538 million (45.4 percent of total or consolidated revenue) from $5,331 million (46.6 percent of total revenue) and increased 2.3 percent q-o-q from $5,416 million (45.2 percent of total revenue).

Comcast CCS reported consolidated or total revenue of $12,204 million for Q1-16, up 6.8 percent y-o-y as compared to $11,430 million and up 1.9 percent q-o-q as compared to $11,980 million.

Time Warner Cable (TWC)

TWC reported 0.2 percent y-o-y growth in video subscribers to 10.842 million (67.2 percent of customer relationships) in Q1-16 as compared to 10.819 million (73.5 percent of total customer relationships) and also 0.2 percent q-o-q growth as compared to 10.821 million (71.5 percent of customer relationships) in the immediate trailing quarter.

Customer relationships in the current quarter increased 9.6 percent y-o-y to 16.130 million from 14.716 million and increased 6.6 percent q-o-q from 15.129 million.

Video revenue increased 1.6 percent y-o-y in Q1-16 to $2,508 million (40.5 percent of total or consolidated revenue) from $2,469 million (42.7 percent of total revenue) and increased 1.6 percent q-o-q from $2,471 million (40.7 percent of total revenue).

TWC reported consolidated revenue or total revenue of $6,191 million, up 7.2 percent y-o-y from $5,777 million and up 2 percent q-o-q from $6,072 million.

Charter Communications (Charter)

Charter’s video subscribers increased 4.3 percent y-o-y in Q1-16 to 4.332 million (67.8 percent of customer relationships) from 4.153 million (68.4 percent of customer relationships) and increased 0.2 percent q-o-q from 4.322 million (68.8 percent of customer relationships).

Customer relationships in the current quarter increased 5.2 percent y-o-y to 6.388 million from 6.070 million and increased 1.7 percent q-o-q from 6.284 million.

Video revenue increased 3.6 percent y-o-y to $1,170 million (46.2 percent of total or consolidated revenue) from $1,129 million (47.8 percent of total revenue) and increased 0.3 percent from $1,167 million (46.5 percent of total revenue) in Q4-15.

Consolidated or total revenue in Q1-16 increased 7.1 percent y-o-y to $2,530 million from $2,352 million and increased 0.7 percent q-o-q from $2,512 million.

Average Revenue per User (ARPU) and multi-play numbers

ARPU has been increasing as more and more customers move from single to double play and triple play and from double play to triple play. Please refer to Figures B1 and B2 below.

Note 2:
ARPU in the case of Charter has been estimated based on the numbers submitted by it for its residential and business services ARPU. Charter’s ARPU numbers in the above chart are likely an approximation.

Business Services Revenue (BSR)

All the three players offer video, data (internet) and voice services to businesses. Unlike retail customers, the proportion of data and voice services are higher than video services. Business services revenue has been growing, as has its contribution to overall revenue. BSR’s contribution to total revenue is in double digits, in the case of TWC it was 14.3 percent in Q1-16. In the case of Comcast CCS, BSR contributed $1.3 billion to overall revenue in Q1-16. Please refer to Figures C1 and C2 below.

Note 3:
Business services revenue numbers may have many components including revenue from the three main service streams – video, data (high speed internet) and voice as well as revenue from advertising, wholesale transport, others, etc., depending upon the entity.

Note:
(a)Residential customer relationship numbers have been used in this report wherever the breakup has been mentioned in SEC filings by the concerned entity. In the case Comcast Cable Communications segment, the breakup of subscription numbers in terms of Residential and Business Services has not been indicated.
(b) The results and the conclusions in this report may not necessarily reflect the true trends and nature of the cable communications industry in US.

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