While the traditional pay-television business now has to fight for customers with streaming media services, some of the bigger players in the space have been thriving. Among them: No. 2 cable TV player Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), which has continued to grow despite the challenging operating environment.
Charter started its year strong, adding 287,000 net new customer relationships in Q4, and growing revenue by 7.2% year over year to $10.3 billion (on a pro forma basis). The company followed that up by adding 365,000 net customers in Q1 while growing revenue by 4.3% year over year to $10.2 billion.
CEO Tom Rutledge celebrated those results and explained what was driving them in his remarks in the Q1 earnings release. He also noted that it has been almost a year since the company purchased Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
"We have now launched our Spectrum pricing and packaging to nearly all of the homes we pass in our new footprint," he said. "We are already seeing the benefits of our customer-focused strategy in those markets, including greater connect volumes and the sales of higher quality products, all of which will lead to higher customer satisfaction, lower churn, and faster customer and financial growth in future quarters."
Proving that it can grow even in a challenging operational environment has been good for Charter's stock. Shares, which closed 2016 at $287.92, rose 17% to $338.65 as of market close on June 30, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
In recent quarters Charter has compensated for losing pay-television subscribers by adding broadband customers. In Q1, for example, it lost 89,000 cable accounts, but added 458,000 broadband customers, according to data from Leichtman Research Group (LRG).
Going forward, the company faces the same challenges as the rest of its industry: It needs to stop the current trickle of cord cutters from becoming a swifter stream, while also continuing to add broadband subscribers from the shrinking pool of people either without such service or willing to change subscribers.
So far, Charter has done a good job of answering these challenges. The first task may become harder as more companies offer compelling streaming alternatives, but the rise of those cable TV substitutes will only increase demand for high-quality broadband. Charter sits in a precarious position, but has generally shown it can roll with whatever punches the evolving market throws at it.