Verizon Ended 2010 With 3.5 Million FiOS TV Users

The company added nearly 730,000 net new video subscribers for the whole year, but growth slowed compared to 2009.

NEW YORK – Telecom giant Verizon ended 2010 with 3.5 million FiOS TV video subscribers, up more than 26 percent from 2.9 million at the end of 2009, but customer growth slowed from the previous year. 

The company on Tuesday reported 182,000 net FiOS TV customer additions for the fourth quarter, up from the 153,000 additions recorded in the same quarter last year. But the first three quarters of 2010 had seen slower growth than 2009. For all of 2010, Verizon added 728,000 FiOS TV customers, down from 950,000 in 2009.

Verizon, whose FiOS service competes with cable and satellite TV operators, was the first major multi-channel video provider to report year-end results for 2010. Over the past two quarters, multi-channel TV subscriber figures have fallen driven by cable losses, leading to investor concerns that cord cutting may become a continuing trend among consumers.

It also said that it ended the year with 4.1 million total FiOS Internet users, up from 3.4 million at the end of 2009. The fourth quarter saw a gain of 197,000 broadband customers.

"FiOS results remain solid despite the wind-down of footprint expansion," said Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett. "Broadband net adds of 197,000 were precisely at expectations, and video additions of 182,000 were marginally better."

Overall, FiOS revenue generated approximately 53 percent of revenue in the company’s consumer wireline unit. Verizon management in an investor presentation on Tuesday highlighted that average revenue per user for FiOS has risen to $146.

Total broadband and video revenue amounted to $1.8 billion in the quarter, up 18.4 percent from the year-ago period.

Management on Tuesday also touted the Verizon iPhone that will be available soon, predicting it will be a key growth driver in the company’s wireless business. The company didn't estimate how many iPhone it will sell. But using a Wall Street consensus of 11 million iPhone sales, the company said its earnings per share growth would come in at 5 percent-8 percent in 2011 and twice that in 2012. If it sells more iPhones than consensus estimates say, it would hit the lower end of the range or even fall outside of it, management said.