Verizon video service growing slowly

FiOS TV subscriber base short of estimates

Verizon Communications signed up a weaker than expected 176,000 net new customers to its FiOS TV service during the second quarter, the telecom giant said Monday as it launched the video service in New York.

Verizon signaled that it hopes to score with a strong high-definition TV offering of 100 channels in the showdown with local cable players Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems as well as satellite TV providers.

Verizon's quarterly additions brought the total FiOS TV subscriber base to nearly 1.4 million as of the end of June, but they fell short of estimates: Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett had expected 283,000 additions. Observers cited a traditionally weak second quarter, a backlash from competitors and the end of a promotion that saw Verizon give away free HDTV sets.

Nonetheless, some were surprised by the size of the shortfall. "That FiOS is already seeing a sequential deceleration is a startling development," Moffett said.

Verizon has been taking advance orders for FiOS TV in New York. Although management didn't provide specific figures, Verizon GM for New York Maura Breen said orders "blew past all of our projections."