The No. 2 cable operator lost more video subscribers, and gained fewer broadband ones, than analysts expected in a quarter when the company collected $1.1B from spectrum sales to Verizon Wireless. With everything included, Q3 net income came in at $808M, +127% vs last year, on revenue of $5.63B, +9.2%. Revenues exceeded the consensus forecast of $5.39B. But if you strip out the one-time gains, earnings came in at $1.41 a share, below the Street’s $1.43 projection. Programming costs equaled $31.45 per video customer, +6.1%. Time Warner Cable ended the quarter with 12.2M video subscribers, down 140,000 from the end of June; analysts expected something more around -130,000. Meanwhile, the company added 85,000 residential broadband customers, bringing the total to 10.9M. Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker thought the improvement would be closer to 89,000. The number of residential phone subscribers stayed flat at about 5M, a little better than expected. Ryvicker says the numbers were “somewhat messy” — and that the Street’s expectations may have been too high after seeing Comcast’s strong Q3 numbers. “Our third quarter results were good, with most trends similar to the proceeding quarter,” CEO Glenn Britt says. He adds that the company remains “focused on investing in growing our business, while at the same time ramping up capital returns to our shareholders.”
UPDATE: AT&T U-Verse Joins Charter, Verizon To Carry Time Warner Cable’s New Lakers Channels As Others Balk At Price
3RD UPDATE, 2:40 PM SATURDAY: Time Warner Cable today annouced that AT&T U-verse had signed on in Southern California in time for the L.A. Lakers’ season debut. Starting Tuesday, October 30, AT&T U-verse TV will provide SportsNet and Deportes — the local TV homes for the LA Galaxy and Los Angeles Sparks games as well as the Lakers. TWC SportsNet will be available for U-verse TV customers in Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield and much of Fresno) with the U100 package and above on channel 1777 in HD and channel 777 in SD. TWC Deportes will be available in the U300 package or U-Latino package on channel 1778 in HD and channel 778 in SD.
2ND UPDATE, 6:25 PM Friday: Time Warner Cable has confirmed that it has agreed to terms on with Verizon’s FiOS system, with details in the coming days. (UPDATE: It was made official Monday. Time Warner Cable SportsNet will be available on FiOS TV Channel 78 in standard definition and on FiOS TV Channel 578 in high definition. Time Warner Cable Deportes will be available on FiOS TV Channel 79 in standard definition.)
1ST UPDATE, 4:40 PM: Charter Communications has just finalized a deal to carry the two networks in Southern California, with a launch targeted before the Lakers’ first game on the channels October 31. “Charter is committed to bring programming to our customers that mirror their interests,” said Allan Singer, Charter’s SVP Programming. “We are proud of Charter’s robust selection of sports programming. Charter is the first provider of this brand new programming in our service areas, and we know that the addition of these networks especially pleases our customers in Southern California.” No deal terms were announced.
PREVIOUS: 2:59 PM: The tipoff of the NBA’s regular season is a week away. But there’s a pretty good game going on right now between Time Warner Cable‘s just-launched regional sports channels — the new digs of the Los Angeles Lakers — and the cable and satellite companies that have yet to pick them up. That includes pretty much all the Southern California operators, from DirecTV and Dish Network to Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Charter and Cox Communications. At issue is TWC’s reported asking price of $3.95 per subscriber per month. That’s a steep price for a lineup that just includes the Lakers, Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy and the WNBA’s LA Sparks. The king of per-subscriber sports fees, Disney’s ESPN, commands an average of $5.13 per sub each month, according to SNL Kagan. Among Time Warner Cable’s fellow RSNs, six receive more than $3 — and half of them are from Comcast, including the highest-price one Comcast SportsNet Washington at $4.02.
So far, the networks — Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Spanish-language Time Warner Cable Deportes, which are being shopped as a package — have carriage on only one system: Bright House Networks, which operates in the Bakersfield area. That leaves a majority of fans — ESPN Los Angeles put it at about 4.8 million Angelenos who pay for TV — shut out unless they have Time Warner Cable, which has about 2 million subs in LA. In the past week, DirecTV and Cox have criticized the TWC channels amid ongoing negotiations. They say TWC’s charging too much for networks with one marquee tenant that will show only 53 of the team’s 82 games. Both said they offered to carry the channels on a specialty tier that subs would have to pay for separately, according to the LA Times.
The National Football League and Time Warner Cable Inc. resolved a nine-year impasse with an agreement that brings the league’s NFL Network …
Global Showbiz Briefs: Time Warner Cable Shedding Clearwire, Lachlan Murdoch Settles, Nine Financial Woes, ‘A Long Way Down’
Time Warner Cable To Sell Its Stake In Clearwire
Time Warner Cable plans to sell its 46.4 million shares of Clearwire to build a nationwide high-speed wireless Internet network, Bloomberg reports. The second-largest U.S. cable company alerted other Clearwire investors of its intention to sell the holdings in a filing last week. Time Warner Cable and Comcast agreed late last year to market and sell Verizon Wireless, allowing the cable companies to combine wireless service with their television, land-line phone and broadband Internet services. The U.S. Justice Department approved the Verizon deal last month. Clearwire fell 4.9 percent to $1.54 at the close in New York.
Michael Willner was the cable industry’s most popular CEO — and one of its most prominent representatives — up until February, when The Carlyle Group sold Insight Communications for $3B to Time Warner Cable. Now Willner and fellow …
They can’t formally begin talks until Oct. 15, but Fox Sports and the Los Angeles Dodgers are said to have started preliminary discussions on a new cable pact. Last year, Fox and former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt struck a 20-year, $3B deal that included a provision giving the Dodgers 30% of the Fox Sports channel. But, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig did not allow that pact to proceed. Citing a source familiar with the current talks, Reuters reports the renewal being discussed since May would “almost certainly exceed” the kiboshed deal and include joint ownership of English and Spanish language channels. According to the Reuters source, no financials have been discussed, but sports consultant Marc Ganis said the new deal could cost $4B or more. Fox and the Dodgers’ current deal expires at the end of next year.
Time Warner Cable is adding Pac-12 Networks to its Southern California lineup starting today, which will include one channel for USC and UCLA and another for the Pac-12 conference. The LA Times noted that satcasters …
The suit at U.S. District Court in northern Texas involves an interesting quirk in Time Warner Cable’s retransmission consent dispute with Hearst, which since July 9 has left more than 2M cable customers in 11 markets without access …
You may think of Comcast, Disney, and Time Warner Cable as masters of belt-tightening, stock buybacks, and financial engineering. But the Progressive Policy Institute, the think tank that started off as former President Bill Clinton’s “idea mill,” says that last year they were also among the top investors in U.S. jobs and economic growth. They joined telecom and tech firms including AT&T, Verizon, Google, and Apple in the organization’s list of 25 non-financial U.S. companies that allocated the most money in 2011 to domestic capital spending. “In many cases this required detailed calculations and assumptions, since companies often report global capital spending without breaking it down by country,” says the report entitled Investment Heroes: Who’s Betting on America’s Future?
UPDATE, 3:38 PM: Hearst Television President David Barrett says that Time Warner Cable’s making “exaggerated and distorted claims” about their dispute. His company wants “a reasonable increase” in line with its programming costs “and the carriage fees now paid to us by Time Warner’s competitors.” It has more than 150 other deals, and that “is the real measure…of the fairness of our proposal.” The cable company “is seeking a significant discount of market-based fees that is neither fair nor reasonable.”
PREVIOUS, 11:32 AM: The breakdown over price affects 13 communities including 2M Time Warner Cable customers, as well as Bright House subscribers in Orlando and Tampa. The stations went dark at midnight; Hearst’s contract expired on June 30, but it agreed to let Time Warner Cable continue to carry its stations through the July 4 holiday. It appears to be a garden variety retransmission consent disagreement: Time Warner Cable says on a web site that “Hearst’s demand for a nearly 300% increase is way out of line. That kind of outrageous increase is unfair to our customers and unsustainable for our business.” There’s no comment yet from Hearst. But it comes at an embarrassing time for Hearst Television President David Barrett: Just two weeks ago he told a congressional committee that blackouts hurt consumers — although he says that broadcasters are not to blame for rising pay TV prices. The impasse could hit ABC especially hard: Hearst provides the network’s programming to Time Warner Cable in cities including Boston; Portland, Maine; Kansas City; Omaha; Pittsburgh; and Honolulu. Hearst also has affiliates for NBC (Cincinnati; Winston-Salem; Orlando; and Burlington, Vt.), CBS (Louisville), and CW (Kansas City and Orlando).
Cisco supplies set-top boxes to distributors like Verizon and Time Warner Cable that TiVo claims infringe on its patented DVR technology. The suit was filed in Texas federal court after Cisco filed a pre-emptive suit May 30 in California …
The fight began last year: Viacom charged that Time Warner Cable violated its licensing agreement and Viacom’s copyrights when it streamed the company’s programming to customers’ iPads and other mobile devices. Time Warner Cable said that it was within its rights to just offer the shows in subscribers’ homes, likening the iPad to another TV screen. The companies sued each other, but also struck a standstill agreement in June to buy time to work things out. Viacom says on its blog that with the new agreement Time Warner Cable customers now will be able to watch shows such as MTV’s Jersey Shore and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart via the TWC TV app, available for iPads and Android tablets. Although the companies didn’t spell out financial terms, they said that they also resolved “unrelated business matters.” Time Warner Cable will carry some of Viacom’s marginal channels including MTV Hits, MTV Jams and Centric. In addition, Time Warner Cable will provide TV Land HD and BET HD in New York City and other top markets.
Here’s the companies’ statement: