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Comcast’s earnings prove cable TV is far from dead

AP Images for Comcast/Jeff Fusco
Don’t call it a comeback.
By Ashley Rodriguez
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The death of TV has been often prophesied. But despite the supposedly insurmountable challenges facing the industry, it’s still hanging on. And at least one TV operator is in the midst of a revival.

Comcast just posted cable-TV subscriber gains for the second straight quarter, nearly recouping losses from cord-cutters over the last two years, the US broadcast-and-cable TV giant said when it reported first quarter earnings today.

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based media conglomerate added 53,000 video subscribers in the most recently completed quarter, marking its strongest first-quarter performance in nine years. It added 89,000 subscribers the previous period, another breakthrough. (Comcast started rolling out a cable streaming service last summer, but it hasn’t said how many subscribers that offering has.)

“This important milestone has eluded us for nearly a decade,” said CEO Brian Roberts, on a conference call. He said it shows Comcast is still competitive despite the ”unprecedented pace of change in this industry, including the steady drumbeat of new competitors and new offers.”

The company said recent offerings like its voice remote and X1 digital set-top box system drove the gains and brought Comcast’s subscriber base back to 2014 levels.

The gains helped boost revenue 5.3% to $18.8 billion for the quarter. The company’s shares rose about 2% before the opening bell.

Rival Verizon added 36,000 video subscribers during the first quarter of 2016, down from 90,000 a year ago, as the company neared the end of its FIOS fiber network expansion. And AT&T, which owns satellite TV provider DirecTV, lost 54,000 video subscribers during the quarter, the company said on Tuesday (April 26).

Time Warner Cable reports its first quarter earnings on Thursday.

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