Verizon Reports Solid Third-Quarter FiOS TV User Growth

Conference call yields no color on possible benefits from Fox-Cablevision dispute

NEW YORK - Telecom giant Verizon signed up FiOS TV subscribers at a faster-than-expected rate in the third quarter, adding 204,000 net new users.

That brought the company to 3.3 million in total FiOS TV customers.

The growth pace exceeded the 174,000 net additions recorded in the traditionally slow second quarter and the 191,000 additions posted in the third quarter of 2009. The additions also came in above the 175,000 Wall Street consensus estimate mentioned by Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett.

In a conference call with analysts, management wasn't asked and didn't address how the Fox-Cablevision Systems carriage dispute in the New York market may have helped its subscriber trends since the end of the third quarter.

A FiOS spokeswoman previously said the company has been "busy" since the dispute led to a Fox program blackout in Cablevision homes a week ago.

Verizon on Friday also said it signed up 226,000 FiOS broadband customers in the latest quarter, up from 196,000 in the previous and 198,000 in the year-ago period.

But some expect a slowdown of the maturing FiOS business in the future. "While third-quarter FiOS results were still relatively strong, with less footprint expansion, we can expect slower growth going forward," said Moffett.