Cable One CEO: Truck rolls cut in half over last decade

Cable One installer
Phoenix-based CableOne employed a team of industrial engineers to help it take cost out of its operations.

Cable One said that its truck rolls have been reduced by almost half over the last decade.

Presenting the company’s cost-focused economic model to investors at UBS’ annual media and telecom conference this week, Cable One CEO Thomas Might showed off a slide revealing that the MSO’s truck rolls decreased from 970 in 2007 to an estimated 394 for 2016.

Employing a team of industrial engineers to help it take cost out of its operations in 2008, the Phoenix-based mid-sized operator said that office visits by customers have gone down from 726 to 393, or 47%, since 2011.

Customer phone calls, meanwhile, have fallen 39% since 2010, from 5,422 to 3,332.

And the cable company’s headcount has been reduced from 2,254 in 2012 to a current mark of 1,929, declines Cable One said that are entirely based on attrition and not layoffs. 

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Overall, Might said his company’s costs are lower now than they were in 2010.

Cable One also used its presentation to support one of its key operating beliefs—that there are no sustainable margins left in video, and that the triple-play strategy is “unsustainable.”

Might conceded that the MSO has lost about half of its video customers since 2012. But by trimming costs—Cable One famously eschewed a carriage deal with Viacom several years ago, for example—and refocusing on profitable customers, he said, “We’re making more money on cable TV than we were a few years ago, even though we have far fewer customers.”

Might described what he calls “Cable One math”—“Forget about gross margins, and focus on adjusted EBITDA.”

It is by this measure that Cable One wants to be evaluated by Wall Street. 

Notably, adjusted EBITDA minus capex for Cable One went up 28.2% year-over-year in the third quarter.