Marcus Touts Possible Basic Video Sub Growth in 2015

Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Rob Marcus said the cable giant could end the year in the black regarding basic video subscribers, a major turnaround from the heavy losses of just a few years ago.

Marcus, speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., said given the momentum of the past two quarters, a positive basic video showing is not out of the question.

TWC added about 30,000 basic video customers in the first quarter and lost 45,000 in the second quarter. Marcus said that momentum is strong in the third quarter, although he couldn’t predict whether the company would report gains or not. The fourth quarter, which is typically stronger, could be the difference, adding that the company has a “good shot” at posting at least a slight gain.

That would be a big turnaround from just two years ago, when Time Warner Cable lost a staggering 833,000 basic video subscribers in 2013. Those losses improved to 408,000 in 2014, as the company began implementing its TWC Maxx initiative, began converting markets to all-digital and substantially improved customer service.

Basic video gains would be a nice parting gift for Marcus and TWC, which agreed to be purchased by Charter Communications in a deal valued at $78.7 billion. That deal is expected to close by the end of this year or early next year.

Marcus also downplayed the need for so-called skinny bundles, adding that while thinner programming packages may look appealing, most customers end up buying the thicker offerings because they have more value. He said that in the second quarter, 82% of new TWC customers opted for the “fattest of the fat” bundle.

"The headlines over the last several months have been way ahead of the facts," Marcus said. "We're not seeing this mass migration to skinny bundles.”