Cable One

Cable One installer
The Phoenix, Arizona-based operator saw its TV base shrink to 324,982 users in the second quarter, down another 9,200 customers. But overall margins swelled to 46.4%.

Grade: D

Cable One is the unabashed bad boy of mid-sized cable TV operators, brazenly touting a five-year-old strategy of letting its video service go to seed while its higher-margin HSD and business services sectors grow. 

The Phoenix, Arizona-based operator saw its TV base shrink to 324,982 users in the second quarter, down another 9,200 customers. But overall margins swelled to 46.4%. Even investment analyst Craig Moffett, a noted critic of Cable One’s strategy, was impressed. 

“Cable One’s margins are now within shouting distance of 50%, the magic number touted by Altice as the Holy Grail of cable cost management,” Moffett said. 

In the meantime, if you want to watch TV in Cable One’s footprint, you’ll do so—in 2017—with “many channels in HD!” and with no access to Comedy Central, Nickelodeon or other Viacom networks. 

To its credit, Cable One—like pretty much every other Tier 2 operator—allows users a current-generation experience through TiVo’s whole-home DVR system, which allows for the integration of Netflix and other OTT services. 

But it’s not like video in the Cable One footprint comes cheap. If you buy a double play with 100 Mbps internet (with a low 300 gigabyte cap), you’ll get the base-tier pay-TV experience for $95 for the first six months, shooting up $130 a month after the “trial offer” ends. 

Cable One

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