Driven by what it says are improvements in products and customer service, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) added 30,000 video subscribers in the first quarter, the first quarterly addition of TV subscribers for the MSO since first quarter 2009.
TWC CEO Rob Marcus called it the "best subscriber quarter ever," with residential broadband subscribers spiking by 315,000, the biggest net addition for TWC since first quarter 2007. Residential voice service additions of 320,000 represented the best quarter ever for the MSO, as were the 298,000 net triple-play additions.
Steering a wide berth around discussion of mergers and acquisitions--both scuttled and pending--Marcus said the sub growth is all part of a three-year plan that includes the improvement of network reliability, as well as the deployment of new products such as TWC Maxx.
"Over the last 16 months, while most people were focused on the [Comcast] merger than what were doing inside the company, we've been quietly improving our operations," Marcus told investors. "I told our operations team, in the unlikely event this deal doesn't close, be ready … And despite all the merger-related activity, they never took their eye off the ball. Were simply executing better across all aspects of our business."
Overall, TWC's revenue was up 3.5 percent in the first quarter to $5.77 billion, with operating income declining less than 1 percent to $1.084 billion.
As for the video subscriber growth, Marcus said TWC is doing a better job of competing against IPTV services AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS, noting that "connects are up and disconnects are down" in every market in which it competes with those services.
But he also touted improvements in TWC's network reliability, noting that the company experienced 650,000 fewer repair calls in the first quarter and a 15 percent reduction in truck rolls.
"We've integrated diagnostic tools that help us proactively address network problems, and that has reduced activity to our call centers and improved our response speed levels," Marcus said. "We've also invested in better training and tools for our reps, so more problems can be handled over phone."
Marcus also attributed the subscriber improvement to the TWC Maxx product, which offers customers 300 Mbps broadband speed and an advanced Arris-made DVR. Max is currently rolling out in Kansas City, Dallas and San Antonio, and is on track to reply into Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., San Diego and Hawaii later this year.
TWC says it's deployed nearly 2.4 million Maxx systems so far and expects to have as much as 50 percent of its footprint converted to Maxx by the end of 2015.
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