News and Analysis
Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator, and arguably the most criticized, added
a net of 161,000 video subscribers in 2016.

That was disclosed today in Comcast’s fourth quarter report.

Amazon: Splurge a little. Buy something for yourself …today!

The cable operator says it added a net of 80,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter, which means it has added 161,000 in the last 12 months and 250,000 in the last 15 months.

That Comcast, which often falls at the bottom of pay TV customer satisfaction ratings, has been able to add so many video subscribers suggests that the industry trend called cord-cutting may have been overblown by journalists and analysts.

Amazon: Roku’s new Ultra 4K streaming player: $129.

While Comcast and other pay TV services have collectively lost a few million subscribers over the last few years, they are still in more than 100 million homes and reach roughly 85 percent of all Americans. The loss in pay TV subscribers since 2014 has been relatively small in comparison.

Some analysts and journalists have predicted the demise of pay TV in the last year or so, noting the recent decline in video subscribers from Comcast and other pay TV services.

Comcast, in fact, lost nearly three million video subs from 2008 to 2015. During that time, however, some pay TV services, such as DIRECTV, Verizon and AT&T’s U-verse, actually added subscribers, probably at the expense of the cable industry.

While the pay TV business is hardly booming now, TV providers seem to have slowed the trend of relatively small video subscriber losses thanks to some creative program packaging and greater investment in marketing and promotion.

Pay TV companies have also employed ‘skinny’ low-cost bundles, improved technology and better customer retention programs to get back in the black.

AT&T yesterday released its fourth quarter report which showed that it also had a net gain of video subscribers in 2016, although it would not have done so without DIRECTV Now, its new streaming service. DIRECTV Now generated more than 200,000 subscribers in December, according to AT&T.

— Phillip Swann