Charter sees its biggest quarterly loss in ‘cord’ customers ever

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New financial reporting indicates that Charter’s comparatively smooth sailing in the realm of customer loses may be slowing. 

The company, which sells video and broadband services under the Spectrum brand, has, until now, been able to keep its subscriber losses comparatively less drastic than rivals such as DirecTV, Dish and Comcast.

In fact, in 2023, Comcast Xfinity lost so many customers — over 2 million — that it lost the title of top pay TV dog in the U.S.; that title went to Charter.

However, Charter is now reporting a loss of 392,000 video customers in the first quarter of 2024. Comcast reported 487,000 cancellations. 

Charter’s attrition rate is up from 241,000 in the same quarter of 2023, so the new figure indicates it could be becoming more vulnerable to cord-cutting. That loss was the company’s biggest quarterly dip ever.

Charter has made strategic moves to tide the stem of losses, including offering bundled Disney streaming services while also introducing Spectrum TV Stream only last week.

Spectrum TV Stream, which is considered a “skinny” virtual multichannel video programming distributor, is only available via smart TV and mobile apps and notably does not include ESPN; one of the priciest networks for pay TV operators to carry and that is often blamed for rising costs these plans. Spectrum TV Stream also doesn’t include some other channels known for carrying significant sports lineups. 

While Stream is a vMVPD, it’s not as extensive as offerings such as YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV, both of which more closely resemble traditional cable TV plans — just delivered via broadband instead of underground networks of cables (both offerings include ESPN, for example).

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Spectrum TV Stream would likely be considered part of the company’s video market, unless it opts to break out financials separately. However, with it only being a week old, it wasn’t included in the latest figures.

Charter’s next round of financials could provide at least glimpse at how well Spectrum TV Stream might be at keeping video customers on board in some way. 

Charter was the first major traditional pay TV provider to venture into the vMPVD arena and also took a significant step in dropping ESPN and local channels from the offering. 

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