Comcast’s growth slows as pressure from FiOS, U-Verse ratchets up

Comcast reported third-quarter results on Thursday morning, and despite meeting the average analyst expectations for earnings per share and beating the sales forecasts, the market saw fit to punish the stock price. Harshly. 老域名出售

Management's short-term business outlook wasn't all flags and trumpets, as a weak economy and determined competition from satellite and telecom service providers bit into Comcast's subscriber growth. The company still grew its customer base, but the growth in revenue generating units (RGU) was 6 percent slower this time than it was a year ago. The company lost a total of 65,000 cable subscribers while adding 450,000 new broadband customers to bring its total number of high-speed Internet subscribers to 12.9 million. Unfortunately for the company, growth is slowing, as that 450,000 was 16 percent less than the same quarter last year.

It looks like the vaunted "triple-play" packaging has picked most of the low-hanging fruit already. One triple-play customer adds three RGUs—one each for voice, data, and video services. Last year, cable companies were fairly unchallenged in three-way offerings, but as Verizon and AT&T roll out high-speed networks capable of streaming a full range of video services into the home, that monopolistic advantage is getting lost.

Staring at the RGU data doesn't account for what Comcast calls "advanced services," though. High-definition services, DVRs, and on-demand programming doesn't affect the RGU count, but does improve the profit margin per customer. And advanced digital customers are much less likely to leave Comcast for greener pastures—just like triple-play subscribers.

The company now plans to push single-service and two-service packages a bit harder after seeing the success their competition has had with smaller package offerings. Comcast is also expanding the bandwidth available for high-def programming in a couple of ways. That's done mainly by converting two or three low-demand analog channels into one digital as opportunities arise. Looking further out, there are two trial markets up and running for switched digital video, which holds the promise to loosen the bandwidth crunch enormously.

The quarter itself was okay but nothing more. As for the loss in subscribers, the telecoms are clearly having an impact and we'll see how long the satellite providers can keep up their aggressive pricing. I think an 11 percent price drop is really excessive and would expect a correction as the shock and horror of this lukewarm report wears off.