Video, Wireless Prominent in Cable Quarterlies

BTR_Feature_Art_Financials_5_14_13 It's that time again: Quarterly financials have reared their heads. Here are some of the highlights from both data sheets and conference calls of some of the larger U.S. MSOs.

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA): Cable revenue grew 6.4% during the quarter, with video revenue jumping 3.7%.

X1 is in about 30% of the company's markets currently, and Comcast expects this to expand to 50% by the end of the second quarter and to its entire footprint by the end of the year. In conjunction, marketing efforts are about to "significantly increase," according to CEO Brian Roberts.

Thus far, the company has seen an increase in overall VOD views thanks to X1, especially regarding transactional VOD. Most viewed features have been the mini-guide and the last nine channels viewed. Comcast will demo the next-gen of X1 at the Cable Show in June.

As for Comcast Home, 40% of subscribers to the service are new to the company and 70% are taking a triple play or quad play. On the Internet front, Comcast reports 31% of customers are choosing a higher speed tier above the primary service. Also noted - the company is focused on deploying wireless gateways to power what it is calling the "fastest in-home wireless network." Goals include growing the number of wireless devices on the platform and adding services to Comcast Home based on WiFi.

Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC): The company currently is testing a cloud-based guide in employee homes. Features include rich box art, value-added metadata, robust search and customized recommendations. The expectation is to launch to customers later this year.

TWC recently released a video app for Roku boxes and is in talks with other vendors about similar capabilities. And, last month the company "began to deliver" on the promises of TV Everywhere, CEO Glenn Britt said. Out-of-home access to select content on iPad and iPhone devices was launched last month.

"That's a capability that customers have been craving since the release of the first version of the TWC TV app back in March 2009," said Robert Marcus, COO. "We expect to continually expand out-of-home functionality to include more content and to be available on more devices."

Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR): Charter continues its efforts to complete the move to all-digital by the end of 2014. The benefits are being seen in Texas, which, on a hub-by-hub basis, is getting a "substantial" HD channel increase.

The company also is "making good progress" toward a cloud-based UI and search service, President and CEO Tom Rutledge said. As for capital expenditures, he called last year the "zenith" and said he expects the intensity to decline on a per-sub or per-dollar of revenue basis.

Charter has been walking the plant to upgrade the physical infrastructure, but overall has found the plant to be "in great shape and highly capable." "I don't see a continued significant expenditure in our network infrastructure," Rutledge said.

He also noted that as expected the company received its CableCARD waiver from the FCC, which will result in the ability to purchase lower cost CPE. Specifically, this means a few things: Charter does not have to buy a box with a form factor for the CableCARD or the card itself; a downloadable security infrastructure will allow direct hookup to smart TVs without having to put CPE in the house at all.

"(Third) there's been a duopoly of security, conditional access we call it, between Cisco and Motorola, and it'll be opened," Rutledge said. "That makes (it easier) for other vendors to sell products into this industry."

General Communication Inc. (NASDAQ: GNCMA): Alaska-based cable operator GCI noted that pending government approval, it expects to able to "close the transaction" and move forward with the combining of its wireless assets with those of Alaska Communications. The joint agreement will result in the formation of the Alaska Wireless Network.

"We expect to drive the fastest, most geographically extensive, and most reasonably priced wireless service in Alaska, which will allow us to more effectively compete with the national carriers in the Alaska retail market," said John Lowber, SVP and CFO.

Cablevision Systems (NYSE: CVC): Cablevision saw first quarter consolidated net revenues decline 0.8% to $1.524 billion, adjusted operating cash flow (AOCF) decreased 26.9%, and consolidated operating income decreased 63.1% compared to the year-ago quarter.

President and CEO James Dolan said: "(We) started the year off delivering sequential growth in our customer relationship, high-speed data and voice subscriber metrics, all while continuing to recover from the impact of Superstorm Sandy." He expects to see a "positive impact" from recent pricing moves and improved advertising related to AOCF.

(Transcripts of conference calls provided by

Monta Monaco Hernon is a free-lance writer. She can be reached at

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