Comcast lost a quarter of a million cable television customers in three months and has lost 2.12 million in three years. The company is now focussed on using broadband to deliver services, including its own, with internet access revenue poised to overtake that for cable television subscriptions. In Europe, its Sky subsidiary lost 21,000 customers, despite gaining 51,000 in the United Kingdom.
Comcast lost 253,000 cable television customers in the third quarter of 2020, ending with a total of 19.22 million. It was its 14th consecutive quarterly loss. The last time Comcast saw a net gain of cable television subscribers was in March 2017, when it had 21.51 million.
The cable company is more focussed on broadband and saw the largest quarterly gains in its history. It now has 27.84 million residential internet customers in the United States.
“Driven by our industry-leading platform and strategic focus on broadband, aggregation and streaming, we added a record 633,000 high-speed internet customers and 556,000 total net new customer relationships,” said chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts. That gave the company 30.29 million residential customer relationships in the United States.
Quarterly revenue for internet access services of $5.20 billion rose by 10% and is now just behind that for video, which fell to $5.42 billion, taking total cable communications revenue to $15.00 billion for the quarter.
Comcast also reported almost 22 million sign-ups for its Peacock online service, overtaking its number of traditional cable television customers, albeit the service is available free of charge to its internet customers.
“We pivoted a lot of our innovation to broadband in the last 2, 3, 4 years. And we saw this transformation coming. We saw how important broadband was going to become and even further become and reinvent itself over and over again. To have the best broadband quarter in the company’s history, sitting here in 2020, when it’s a 20-year-old product, give or take, is a pretty dramatic and amazing statement, in my opinion,” the Comcast chief executive told analysts.
“It is clear that Peacock’s results are enhanced by the placement and distribution it gets through our broadband service, and adding Peacock to broadband is resulting in significant improvement in both churn and gross adds as Peacock is continuously cited as a differentiating factor at the point of sale for Xfinity broadband products. None of this could have been achieved without the technology stack that we have through Sky.” He talked of drawing Sky and Xfinity closer together into one global technology stack.
Sky lost 21,000 customers in the third quarter of 2020, despite gains of 51,000 in the United Kingdom, where it has 13 million customer relationships, ending September with 23.70 million across Europe. That was an improvement on the loss of 214,000 in the second quarter but represents a loss of 223,000 in 12 months, which is less than 1% of the customer base.
Adjusted earnings of $515 million were down by 43% on the same quarter the previous year, on quarterly revenues of $4.79 billion.