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News Analysis
Comcast Kills 'Cord Cutting'
By Swanni 

Washington, D.C. (February 15, 2012) -- Comcast today announced that it lost 17,000 video subscribers in last year's fourth quarter.

Why is that significant?

Comcast had lost 1.6 million video subscribers in the last two and a half years. The nation's largest cable operator, which once had 24 million video subs, was left with roughly 22.4 million at the end of last year's third quarter. And some Wall Street analysts were predicting that the heavy losses would continue in the fourth quarter and beyond.

But today's announcement suggests that Comcast has finally stop the bleeding -- and it should put an end to a trend that never really existed:

Cord cutting.

During the last year or so, many tech journalists and industry analysts said Comcast and other cable TV operators were losing subs because consumers were deciding to 'cut the cord,' meaning they were dropping their expensive cable packages and subscribing to relatively cheap Internet video services such as Netflix.

The journalists and analysts didn't have any hard numbers to back up their claim, but they continued to repeat it because video streaming had become a sexy topic in the tech industry. The tech elite seemed to want to believe that consumers were choosing video streaming over traditional cable TV because the tech elite prefers video streaming over traditional pay TV services.

But if the journalists and analysts had probed a bit further, they would have discovered that while cable TV operators were losing video subs, DIRECTV and the telco TV services were gaining them. Were they getting every cable subscriber who dropped? No. A small number of recession-weary consumers did abandon pay TV altogether. But the large sub gains made by DIRECTV and the telco TV services over the last few years strongly suggests that few people were anxious to cut the cord. They just wanted a better TV service.

Comcast, of course, has known this for some time. Consequently, it has invested heavily in improving its customer service and expanding its high-def lineup in small and mid-size markets around the country. This has helped significantly in slowing down its customer churn.

And if Comcast, and its cable colleagues, continue to invest in offering a better TV service, I predict they will begin to see some sub gains in the coming months.

Americans love television -- and they love most being able to watch their favorite shows when they first come on. (Particularly live sports) Video streaming services such as Netflix can never compete with that.

That's why cord cutting will never be a significant force. Never.

What do you think? Offer your comments below!

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