Announced in a third quarter earning report earlier today, Comcast informed investors that the company lost approximately 165,000 cable subscribers between the months of July through September of 2011. While cable subscribers continue to remain the most profitable portion of Comcast business, more consumers are dropping cable service for alternative options including over-the-air channels and set-top boxes like the Roku. The average Comcast cable subscriber spent approximately $138.58 per month during the third quarter or a bit over $1,650 a year. With the combined cost of Hulu Plus, Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant just over $270 a year, it’s clear that some consumers are moving away from cable due to financial constraints.
However, Comcast saw an increase of about 261,000 high-speed Internet subscribers during the same time period. This brings the amount of Comcast high-speed Internet subscribers to just under 18 million while video customers have fallen to just over 22 million. It’s likely that a portion of the cable subscribers picked up Comcast high-speed service to access online video sources. While video subscribers have decreased, the rate of decline has fallen since the previous year. During the third quarter of 2010, Comcast lost about 275,000 cable subscribers. Overall, the company posted a profit during the third quarter from a combination of cable, high-speed Internet and voice sales.
According to claims by Time Warner, the rival to Comcast believes that the majority of consumers that cancel service are doing so for financial reasons rather than moving to online video sources. However, Time Warner lost about 128,000 video subscribers in the third quarter of 2011 and gained about 90,000 high-speed Internet subscribers as well. It’s also possible that consumers have started to split services between companies. For instance, using DirecTV to provide satellite access throughout a home and signing up with Time Warner or another cable company for high-speed Internet access.