Comcast will report video subscriber losses of between 100,000 and 150,000 in the third quarter, the No. 1 cable operator’s residential products chief, Matt Strauss, said.
Strauss made his comments today, speaking at the Merrill Lynch Communications and Entertainment Conference. He said disruption caused by recent hurricane disasters, coupled with rampant competition in the pay-TV market, has resulted in a “weaker third quarter than we’ve seen in the past.”
Comcast is among the few top pay-TV operators able to grow its video base amid an acceleration of cord-cutting over the last 18 months. The operator added 161,000 customers in 2016 and ended the first six months of 2017 up another 8,000 pay-TV subscribers, despite record industry attrition in the second quarter.
Strauss said Comcast was unwilling to cover up pay-TV customer losses with aggressive promotions, noting, “We will not be distracted by unprofitable video subscriptions. … What you will see is us being very disciplined and very focused, and hitting our financial goals in the quarter.” He added that Comcast expects to gain around 100,000 overall customer relationships in the third quarter, despite the video losses.
Strauss was making his first public comments since Comcast announced his promotion to executive VP of Xfinity Services, adding the rest of the residential bundle to his video responsibilities. Asked to comment on Disney CEO Bob Iger's declaration that his company would soon launch an a la carte product, Strauss struck a broad tone, noting that programmers that get into the distribution business are in for a ride they might not expect.
“I don’t think direct-to-consumer is for the faint-of-heart,” he said. “You’re responsible for billing and the quality of service, and I can tell you that tolerance when video isn’t working doesn’t exist.”
However, repeating Comcast’s catchphrase that it is an “aggregator of aggregators,” Strauss said he’d have no problem integrating a new Disney a la carte service into Comcast’s X1 video platform, as the cable company already does with Netflix and YouTube.
“Not knowing exactly what the product is but just listening to Bob, we’d be very open to it,” Strauss said.