Mediacom down 12,000 video subs in blackout-laden Q2

Mediacom Communications reported that it lost just 12,000 video customers across its two operating units in the second quarter, despite experiencing two recent retransmission-related station blackouts. The Blooming Grove, N.Y.-based MSO finished the quarter with a total of 879,000 pay-TV subscribers, down from 919,000 at the end of June 2014.

The subscriber performance represented an improvement over the comparable quarter in 2014, during which Mediacom lost 18,000 video subs. Meanwhile, the company called its revenue performance its best in four years, despite what it said were declines in advertising revenue due to the national election cycle and "outsized increases" in programming costs. Mediacom Broadband LLC revenues were up 3.9 percent to $246.1 million, while revenue for Mediacom LLC increased 3.8 percent to $185.6 million. 

Mediacom has endured a tumultuous summer as far as blackouts are concerned. In June, Mediacom ended a blackout that kept three NBC affiliates owned by Granite Broadcasting off the MSO's programming grid for nearly two weeks. A larger retrans dispute, since resolved, which included numerous blackout threats by Media General soon emerged. But as Mediacom executives pointed out, the actual blackout occured in the third quarter.  

"While Granite Broadcasting temporarily blacked out Mediacom customers in three smaller markets during the second quarter, it had no virtually no impact on our subscriber performance," Mediacom spokesman Thomas Larsen told FierceCable.

Like a lot of small- to mid-sized cable companies, Mediacom is emphasizing data and connectivity over its pay-TV operations. The company said it grew its Internet services customer base by 10,000 subscribers in the second quarter; Mediacom now serves just over 1 million high-speed Internet users. 

Mediacom is not a publicly traded company, but it still publicly reports earnings as a condition of the bond debt relating to the $600 million purchase of the company by CEO Rocco Commisso in 2011. Also relating to the intricacies of that transaction, Mediacom LLC and Mediacom Broadband LLC report their earnings separately. The company does not conduct a quarterly conference call with media investment analysts. 

"Most importantly," Larsen added, "we generated $52 million of free cash flow which was substantially used to continue to repay debt and improve Mediacom's financial position."

For more:
- read this Mediacom earnings release

Special Report: Pay-TV earnings reports in Q2 2015

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UPDATED: This story was updated on August 4 to include a statement from Mediacom.