Cable Operators

Big Deals, Changes for Markets

1/19/2007 7:07 PM Eastern

Consolidation has once again transformed Multichannel News' list of the top 100 cable systems. Thanks to Comcast and Time Warner Cable's acquisition of Adelphia Communications, system swaps between between the two companies and organizational changes at other operators, a slew of systems either expanded their footprint or were swallowed up by larger clusters. Fewer than three quarters of the systems on last year's list survived into 2007 with the same division name. And, many of the survivors have a much expanded footprint.

Thanks to those changes, the 100 largest systems now serve 54,276,131 basic subscribers, significantly up from 51,013,116 in 2006 and 47,644,436 in 2003.

Consolidation and reorganization's effect was most obvious in such areas as southern California, Ohio, Texas and New England, where Time Warner divisions swallowed up a number of Adelphia and Comcast operations, or in Washington, D.C., Boston, St. Paul., Pittsburgh, Houston and Florida where Comcast expanded its clusters or gained new systems.

Big markets were the most affected. Last year, a system with 600,000 basic subscribers would have easily made it into the top 25. This year, that system would rank 32nd.

The impact of the deal making went beyond the Adelphia deal. Cox Communications and Charter Communications systems also changed hands and for the first time Suddenlink Communications has a system in the top 100.

But the cutoff for making the list actually fell from 150,000 basic subscribers in 2006 to 107,000.

In general, many of the systems reported healthy growth in basic-subscriber counts. Among the systems returning to the list, 62% saw subscriber counts increase and only 16% declined, with the rest staying about the same. Consolidation and reorganization helped account for some of that growth but a number of systems that didn't significantly change their footprint also showed healthy increases, indicating that cable is beginning to make headway against satellite competition.

Despite all the organizational changes, the talent pool for the industry's top managers remained remarkably similar. More than three quarters of the top executives (76) were on last year's list. And at least 5 other top managers have been on previous lists.

Women, though, didn't fare as well. Only 14 of the top systems are now managed by women, down from 20 last year and 23 in 2005.

Tighter control over bigger clusters by a few key players can also be found in another statistic: This year only a handful of systems provided us with penetration data for their other products, down from nearly a third three years ago.

As always, there are a few important caveats. Ideally, Multichannel News would like to rank the largest systems by franchise area or market and include a great deal of information about other digital products. But cable systems for specific franchises and designated market areas are now almost always managed by larger divisions, which have the final say on issues like pricing and channel lineups. None of the major operators currently provide information by market or franchise area to the press and with a few notable exceptions are not willing to share data on specific products for their larger divisions.

That has forced us to adopt a very liberal definition of what constitutes a cable system. While many of the systems ranked here cover tight geographical areas that would fall into the traditional definition of a cable system, others span more than one state. As a result, the listing reflects how the major operators manage their operations.

The subscriber data is the most recent available, generally at the end of the third quarter, though a few systems provided November and December data and pricing for the expanded basic is for either December 2006 or Jan. 2, 2007.

The 2007 Rankings
Rank System Basic Subscribers
1Cablevision Greater New York3,110,800
2Time Warner Cable Southern California1,900,000
3Comcast Greater Chicago Region1,780,000
4Comcast San Francisco Bay1,700,000
5Comcast New Jersey1,400,000
Time Warner Cable of N.Y. and N.J.1,400,000
7Comcast Michigan Region1,300,000
8Comcast Philadelphia1,100,000
Comcast Washington State1,100,000
Comcast Potomac Region1,100,000
Comcast Maryland/Delaware1,100,000
12Bright House Networks, Tampa Bay1,060,000
13Comcast Mid-South Region1,024,307
14Time Warner, Northeast Ohio980,200
15Cox Arizona954,000
16Comcast Three Rivers850,000
17Bright House Networks, Central Florida815,000
18Comcast Atlanta765,000
19Comcast Central California750,000
20Comcast Houston730,000
21Comcast Central Pennsylvania725,000
22Comcast South Florida715,000
23Comcast Connecticut-Western Massachusetts705,000
24Comcast Colorado700,000
Comcast Northern New England700,000
26Comcast Gulf Coast691,000
27Charter Central States646,200
28Comcast Metro Boston640,000
Time Warner Cable Southwest Ohio640,000
30Comcast — West Palm Region620,000
31Time Warner Cable — Syracuse610,000
32Time Warner Mid-Ohio600,000
Time Warner North Texas600,000
34Comcast Oregon/Southwest Washington587,000
35Comcast Southeast Massachusetts580,000
36Time Warner Cable Wisconsin576,000
37Comcast Twin Cities Region556,000
38Cox San Diego537,000
39Charter South Carolina536,700
40Time Warner Cable Southwest531,534
41Time Warner Raleigh, N.C.501,000
42Comcast Delta Region480,000
43Mediacom Iowa464,000
44Comcast Indianapolis458,000
45Cox New England450,000
46Time Warner Charlotte440,000
47Charter Tennessee431,600
48Time Warner Austin431,000
49Cox Oklahoma429,644
50Time Warner Cable San Diego Division425,000
51Cox Las Vegas420,000
52Cox Kansas and Arkansas415,000
53Cox Hampton Roads410,000
54Oceanic Time Warner Hawaii407,406
55Time Warner South Carolina393,000
56Time Warner Albany390,000
57Time Warner Greensboro362,185
58Time Warner San Antonio360,000
59Charter New England356,400
60Charter Alabama347,300
61Charter Minnesota/Nebraska344,600
62Time Warner Rochester329,394
63Time Warner Buffalo329,000
64Cox Greater Louisiana307,000
65Comcast Southwest Area305,000
66Time Warner Kansas City300,000
67Charter North Wisconsin293,000
68Charter Georgia292,000
69Time Warner Cable New England290,000
70Charter Los Angeles Metro288,500
71Insight Louisville282,863
72Comcast Jacksonville280,000
Cox Orange County/Palos Verdes280,000
74Charter Northwest277,400
75Cox Northern Virginia260,000
76Comcast Utah249,694
77Charter Southern Wisconsin232,000
78Cox Omaha & Sun Valley, Idaho208,751
79Charter North Michigan206,800
80Suddenlink Charleston/Beckley/Parkersburg, W.V.206,000
81Charter Fort Worth201,900
82Mediacom Illinois-Indiana199,000
83Charter East Michigan198,700
84Charter West Michigan194,800
85Charter Central California185,600
86Cox New Orleans168,652
87Cox Gulf Coast166,000
88Time Warner Eastern Carolina165,000
89Charter Louisiana163,300
90Charter Nevada140,200
91Charter Inland Empire139,600
92Toledo Buckeye CableSystem127,880
93Insight Peoria/Pekin/Galesburg/Bloomington/Normal, Ill.126,856
94Mediacom Minnesota120,000
95Insight Northeast Indiana119,514
96Insight Northern Illinois119,368
97Bright House Networks Indiana114,374
98Insight Springfield113,109
99Mediacom Florida Region109,000
100Cox Central Florida107,000
SOURCE: Company information compiled by Multichannel News. Subscriber counts were the most recent available.

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