Who’s winning pay-TV war this quarter?

April 28, 2008

brianrobertsandglennbritt.jpgSo who’s winning the pay-TV so far this year? With days to go until two of the biggest cable operators (Time Warner Cable on Wednesday and Comcast on Thursday)  report first quarter financial results, Reuters canvassed eight Wall Street analysts for their estimates of subscriber net additions during the period.

At first glance it doesn’t look like it will be a good quarter with these analysts forecasting Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision to lose around 100,000 basic TV subscribers collectively, while satellite TV plays DIRECTV Group and DISH Network will add around 320,000.

Even more worrisome for cable companies?  AT&T and Verizon added around 410,000 new TV subscribers between them during the quarter.

Yet at least one analyst cautions investors  not to read too much into cable’s basic video subscriber losses as this metric is not as important to growth as the addition of other revenue generating units in particular Internet access and phone.

“It would be missing the point to focus on basic video subscriber adds,” says Chris Marangi, an analyst at Gabelli & Co. which holds shares in Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision as well as the two satellite TV companies.

“Voice services and high speed data subscribers is what drives revenue growth,” says Marangi.

(Photo: Reuters/Glenn Britt (l), Brian Roberts (r))

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