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Q2 Earnings: Cable Hot

8/01/2008 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Cable TV operators are hot, while telcos are not. That's a trend evident midway through the two-week earnings reporting frenzy for the second quarter as Cablevision Systems and Comcast thrilled Wall Street, while Verizon Communications and AT&T's video service results didn't.

With stock analysts forecasting a decline, Cablevision actually managed to add 7,000 basic cable TV subscribers compared to the prior quarter, weighing in with 3.13 million subs.

Given that Verizon's FiOS TV and AT&T's U-verse joined satellite TV three years ago in targeting cable companies, Wall Street is impressed. The earnings are for the April to June period.

Meanwhile, at FiOS, which launched in the fall of 2005, growth is already decelerating, lagging the enlargement of the FiOS footprint by 8% in the second quarter. Verizon reported a net gain of 176,000 FiOS video subscribers (finishing the quarter with 1.38 million FiOS customers), but that fell short of the 225,000 to 280,000 that analysts had projected.

About half of the major broadcasting, cable and satellite companies reported for the second quarter, and two other developments are noteworthy. National TV advertising is relatively strong, as the scatter market is holding up, but local advertising slipped in the quarter as political advertising is so far lagging expectations.

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