Comcast predicts substantial video subscriber losses in Q2

Comcast has scheduled its second-quarter earnings call for July 30. (Comcast)

The coronavirus pandemic and recent price increases will both factor into what could be substantial video subscriber losses for Comcast in the second quarter.

CFO Mike Cavanagh spoke this week at an investor conference and predicted that the amount of spread for video subscriber losses year over year will be about the same in the second quarter versus a year ago as it was in the first quarter. In the first quarter, Comcast lost 388,000 residential video subscribers, nearly four times as high as the 107,000 losses the company reported for the same quarter in 2019.

A similar level of acceleration in losses for the second quarter could mean that Comcast loses up to 490,000 video subscribers, compared to the 209,000 residential video subscribers the company lost in the second quarter of 2019.

Comcast has scheduled its second-quarter earnings call for July 30.

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Cavanagh said that Comcast still looks at video as important because it's a great use of high-speed data and because the company has a legacy of investing in X1. He said Comcast wants to maintain a position of helping consumers in an ever more streaming world while offering a bundle that it continues to think is right for the right customers. For customers that don’t want traditional video service, Comcast has pushed its Flex platform.

“But we're not going to force it upon you if you don't choose to see it that way. Instead, Flex takes the kit basically that is the brains and power behind X1 and converts that into a platform that, when combined with a voice remote, we think is very powerful [when] attached to the broadband product,” said Cavanagh.

He said Comcast is “not wedded to being necessarily the seller of a bundle” but that it still appreciates the fact that many of its customers still want X1 or a platform approach for video navigation aggregation through Flex.

“But we're not going to subsidize -- we're not going to spend broadband profitability. The point of both of our video, whatever approach to video we're taking, the point is to add to the customer experience, help reduce churn overall on the broadband product, which is a great value, and basically cement a deeper relationship,” Cavanagh said.