Time Warner Cable CEO Britt: Subscriber losses have to stop

Cable companies, which have seen increasing subscriber losses for more than two years, need to focus on stopping the bleeding "with a renewed intensity," Times Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt yesterday said.

"We need to really to focus on that with a renewed intensity," Britt said during the Deutsche Bank Securities Media & Telecom conference in Palm Beach, Fla. "It is not acceptable to me to continue to slowly lose video customers every year. That has been going on for too long. We're going to put renewed energy against that both in the product space and in marketing, to see if we can slow that down."

Taking the standard MSO tack, he blamed the economy for the losses, rather than acknowledging competition from AT&T or Verizon, which have seen strong gains during the past 24 months.

"The growth of the category has been very much affected by what is going on in the housing market," Britt said, adding that home ownership is down about 35 percent from before the recession and household vacancy rates are at a 30-to 40-year high. "Until the housing market settles down, we're not going to see robust category growth."

Cable companies lost nearly 5 million subscribers between 2001 and 2009, according to the NCTA.

Comcast CEO Neil Smit, meanwhile, was more pointed in his reaction to subscriber losses.

"I hate losing subs," he said. "And I'd like to see that number go away--that loss."

But as to when that might happen, especially as competitors continue to nip at the MSO's heels, Smit said he had no idea. "I can't give you a timeframe," he said.

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