Comcast will lose 400K video subscribers this year, UBS analyst predicts

Image: iStock/zimmytws

UBS analyst John Hodulik is now predicting that Comcast will lose around 400,000 pay TV subscribers this year, upping his earlier forecast of around 320,000 lost souls. 

The projection comes after Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson said during the top U.S. cable operator’s Q4 earnings call in January that he doesn’t expect the currently heated market for video services to cool anytime soon. 

“It is definitely a very competitive video environment and we really don’t expect the level of competition to diminish,” Watson said. He noted that Comcast has made some “moderate adjustments” in how it's going to “aggressively compete for profitable video relationships.”

This latter comment seems to be an indicator that the operator won’t use aggressive price promotions to drive video subscriber growth this year. 

“We have transitioned more and more towards broadband and so broadband is a centerpiece for us,” Watson added.

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Comcast lost 151,000 pay TV customers in 2017 after reporting a gain of 161,000 in 2016. 

Hodulik’s report came several days after Cowen Associates analyst Gregory Williams initiated coverage of Comcast with a more bullish report for investors. 

“Comcast’s ability to react to the OTT threat early, owning premium content and the best experience by integrating OTT into its X1 platform will help defend share, especially with the older, family, high video consumption cohorts,” Williams wrote.

“As such, we believe Comcast will outperform the industry and manage the video sub losses to just ~1-2% per year, losing mostly lower margin subs, and with many cord-cutters still remaining on the high margin broadband product.”