Cable Broadband Subs Surpass Cable TV Subs: LRG

The top 17 U.S. cable operators and telcos, representing about 93% of the market, signed on nearly 385,000 net new high-speed broadband subs in the second quarter of 2014, amounting to 130% of those added in the year-ago quarter, according to a new report from Leichtman Research Group.

Those top providers now have more than 85.9 million broadband subs, with cable accounting for 50.7 million and the top telcos accounting for over 35.2 million.

Of note: LRG found that for the top incumbent cable operators, excluding competitive overbuilder WideOpenWest,  the number of broadband subs (49.915 million) inched by the number of cable TV subscribers (49.910 million) for the first time.

Expect that trend to continue and to stretch across the landscape of cable operators of all sizes. In a report issued last month, debt ratings agency Moody’s Investor’s Service predicted that high-speed data subs, which represent higher margin subscriptions to ISPs, are in position to surpass video subs for cable companies by 2015, noting that both categories were already about even.

While the top U.S. cable operators continued to cede ground on the video front to telcos and satellite TV providers in the second quarter, they remained strong with broadband, with a 59% share of the market.

According to LRG, the top cable MSOs added about 380,000 broadband subs in the second quarter, accounting for 99% of the net broadband ads for the period versus the top telcos. AT&T and Verizon Communications added 627,000 subs through their respective U-verse and FiOS platforms in the second quarter, but shed a net 636,000 DSL subs, LRG noted.

“With the addition of more than 30 million broadband subscribers over the past decade, cable providers have clearly expanded well beyond their roots in cable TV service,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG, said in a statement. “As of the end of 2Q 2014, the top cable providers now have more broadband subscribers than cable TV subscribers.”