Charter has become the leading cable television provider in the United States. The Charter Spectrum service achieved that title by managing to lose fewer cable television customers than Comcast. The real story is that Charter and Comcast are working together to offer an online alternative to a traditional cable television service.

Charter ended 2023 with 13.50 million residential cable television subscribers, down from 14.50 million a year before. Including small business customers, it had a net loss of 257,000 video subscribers in the last quarter, ending the year with a total of 14.12 million video customers.

Comcast ended the year with 14.11 million video customers in the United States, having lost 2.04 million over the year and 389,000 in the last quarter.

So technically that makes Charter the leading cable television provider in the United States, at least in terms of total video subscribers. As as far as residential television customers are concerned there is still a little way to go, but it will not be long before Charter has more television customers overall if Comcast keeps up its current rate of attrition.

Charter has managed to retain more traditional television customers than Comcast, which has lost over 5 million video customers in the last three years.

US Comcast Charter 2021-2023 Q4

Back in 2014, Charter had around 17.34 million video customers and Comcast had 22.46 million.

The dramatic decline in customers paying for a traditional television subscription in the United States, down from a peak of around 100 million homes to around 55 million, is partly driven by the availability of more flexible online offerings. Some of these are offered by traditional service providers as an alternative.

For many years, their business model was driven by a ‘triple play’ of television, telephony and internet provided as a bundle of services. Then they realised that providing internet access was by far the most profitable of these.

Charter and Comcast now both have twice as many residential internet subscribers as video customers.

Charter has 28.54 million residential internet customers, while Comcast has 29.75 million.

They are both also growing their mobile access business. Charter has 7.52 million mobile access lines, up by 47% in a year. Comcast has 6.59 million, up by almost 24% in a year.

In October, Charter began deploying its Xumo Stream Box to video customers. The Xumo Stream Box combines a live television experience with access to hundreds of the most popular direct-to-consumer television applications.

Xumo is a joint venture between Comcast and Charter. Xumo was previously a free online television service. It has expanded to become an online video platform, powered by Comcast technology.

Charter and Comcast do not have overlapping geographic markets. Between them they have a roughly equal split of almost 60 million internet customers to sell into.

So that might explain why they do not appear to be particularly perturbed by the loss of millions of traditional television customers.