Charter Loses 66,000 Pay TV Subscribers in Third Quarter

Tom Rutledge speaks at The New York Times DealBook Conference - Getty-H 2018
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Charter CEO Tom Rutledge

The cable giant, led by CEO Tom Rutledge, beat an analyst earnings forecast, but missed on the revenue line.

Cable operator Charter Communications, in which John Malone's Liberty Broadband owns a big stake, on Friday reported better-than-expected third-quarter financials.

Charter posted third quarter per-share earnings of 2.14 cents, due in part to one-time items, on overall revenue up 4.2 percent to $10.89 billion.

That beat an analyst forecast from Thomson Reuters of earnings at $ 1.04 per share, but missed on a $10.94 billion estimate in revenue. Charter last year posted per-share earnings of 19 cents, on $10.46 billion in revenue.

"We are performing well through a very large integration, including completing all-digital and improving the quality and efficiency of our service operations," Charter chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge said in a statement after his latest financial results were unveiled before the market's opening bell.

Charter is expected to complete the integration of Time Warner Cable and Bright House and operate as a single company by the end of 2018.

The earlier $55 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and the $10.4 billion purchase of Bright House made Charter the second-biggest cable company behind Comcast, and it has focused on higher-end subscribers, which has meant a loss of lower-end Time Warner Cable customers.

During the latest quarter, Charter had 16.14 million total residential video subscribers, against 16.39 million in the year-ago period.

Overall, Charter lost 66,000 net pay TV subscribers in the third quarter, compared with a loss of 104,000 in the year-ago period. That was offset by Charter adding 266,000 high-speed internet access customers, against 250,000 new internet customers added in 2017.

Cord-cutting due to cheaper streaming video services from the likes of Netflix and Amazon has led to lower video subscriber counts for many pay TV companies, while cable giants add to their internet customer counts.

Charter said it had 27.9 million total customers at the end of the third quarter.