Cablevision Systems (NYSE: CVC) blames retrans for Q4 subscriber losses; posts higher profits

Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) continued to feel the effects of last fall's bitter retransmission dispute with Fox Networks. The MSO, which posted a fourth quarter profit that was up 45 percent, with net income climbing to $113.9 million from $78.4 million, also lost 1 percent of its subscriber base (35,000 basic video; 15,000 digital video) "almost all of which is attributable to our decision to contest a retransmission consent demand," COO Tom Rutledge said during an earnings call.

On the good news side, Rutledge said the MSO added 5,500 high-speed data customers, 9,200 voice customers and reached multi-year retrans agreements with "all the major station groups in our service areas." Cablevision also closed its purchase of Bresnan Communications, picking up 306,000 basic video customers along the way.

Rutledge also pointed to the positive cost savings that will accrue from the rollout of a remote storage DVR service, branded DVR-Plus, which has started in New York City and is expanding across the footprint.

"This is the only DVR service we're offering in the service area," he said, noting that the MSO has stopped buying "physical DVRs."

For more:
- see this news release (PDF)

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