Charter loses video subs in Q4 but still ends up ahead in 2020

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Charter added nearly two million customer relationships in 2020—800,000 more than it added in 2019. (Charter Communications)

Charter’s mini-streak of video subscriber additions over two quarters came to a close in the fourth quarter but the cable operator still ended up growing its subscriber base in 2020.

After adding 102,000 and 53,000 net residential video subscribers in the second and third quarters, respectively, Charter lost 66,000 in the fourth quarter. That's still significantly better than the 105,000 losses recorded in the same quarter of 2019.

Despite a return to video subscriber declines, Charter grew its residential video customer base by 19,000 in 2020, compared to a decline of 484,000 in 2019.

While it’s a small amount of annual growth, it’s striking when compared with some of Charter’s pay TV peers. AT&T’s premium video subscriber base declined by 15.3% in 2020, from approximately 19.5 million to 16.5 million. Comcast saw its total video subscriber base shrink from 21.25 million to about 19.85 million in 2020.

Along with surprising video subscriber growth in 2020, Charter added 2.1 million residential Internet customers in 2020, up from 1.3 million added in 2019. This was despite fourth quarter net broadband adds of 216,000, down from 313,000 in the year-ago quarter.

RELATED: Charter adds video subscribers for the second quarter in a row

“We added nearly two million customer relationships in 2020—800,000 more than we added in 2019—and demand for our connectivity products remains strong. As we look forward, we remain focused on the continued execution of our operating strategy, driving customer, revenue and free cash flow growth, enhancing value for our shareholders,” said Charter CEO Tom Rutledge in a statement.

Fourth quarter revenue of $12.6 billion grew by 7.3% year over year, which Charter said was driven by residential revenue growth of 5%, mobile revenue growth of 80.9% and advertising revenue growth of 43.9%. Adjusted EBITDA totaled $5 billion, up 10.2% year over year.