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Comcast's loss widens, but MSO stems sub loss

Wed, 05/07/2003 - 8:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

Comcast Corp. recorded a $297 million loss in its first quarter, but saw pro forma revenue rise 10 percent to $4.23 billion — a figure that includes $88 million in acquisition and employee costs tied to the MSO's acquisition of AT&T Broadband.

Comcast, which has had to stem subscriber losses during its transition following the AT&T Broadband acquisition, said it added 56,900 basic subs, including 14,300 from "historical" Comcast systems and 42,600 in newly acquired properties.

The MSO also bumped its guidance on 2003 basic sub additions. Instead of flat growth, Comcast is now projecting that it will add between 75,000 to 100,000 basic subs during the year. Nearly 80 percent of Comcast's newly acquired systems were two-way upgraded by the end of the quarter, up from 73 percent as of Dec. 31, 2002.

For high-speed data (HSD), Comcast added 417,000 cable modem subs in the period, extending its high-speed base to 4 million. The MSO extended guidance here as well, claiming it will finish the year with 5.2 million HSD subscribers.

Comcast added 168,500 digital subs, giving it a total of 6.78 million, a penetration rate of roughly 32 percent. The company attributed slower digital growth to the impact of digital repackaging and re-pricing of services in newly acquired properties. The MSO reiterated guidance that it would end 2003 with between 950,000 and 1 million digital customers.

On the telephony front, Comcast ended the quarter with 1.41 million voice customers, down from 1.56 million in the year-ago period.

In related news, Comcast re-upped Motorola Broadband 's status as the MSO's primary provider of digital cable technology and network support services. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Comcast did commit to purchasing Motorola's recently announced line of DCT-6000 digital set-tops, which house both digital video recording and high-definition television capabilities.

Comcast also committed to Motorola's DCT-1800, a modified version of its thin-client DCT-1700 digital set-top that supports video-on-demand, pay-per-view and electronic program guide applications.

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