Comcast shed about 33,000 cable video customers in the fourth quarter, nearly reversing the gains of just one year ago, and keeping with the continuing trend of pay TV customers cutting the cord for less costly over-the-top services.
Comcast’s declines come a day after Verizon Communications said it had lost about 29,000 Fios video customers in the quarter.
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For the full year, Comcast lost 151,000 residential and business video customers, nearly erasing the gain of 161,000 video subscribers in 2016. In addition, broadband additions continued to slow, ending the quarter at 350,000, compared with 385,000 additions last year.
The bright spot appeared to be its Xfinity Mobile service, launched last April, which ended the year with 380,000 customers.
At the cable unit, rate increases helped push revenue up 3.4% to $13.3 billion, while cash flow rose 4.2% to $5.4 billion in the period. Overall, consolidated revenue increased 4.2% to $21.9 billion and cash flow was flat at $6.7 billion.
Tax reform also helped drive many of the financial gains. Comcast reported a one-time $12.7 billion gain related to the new tax law enacted in December.
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The continued strong financial performance moved Comcast to increase its stock dividend by 21% to 76 cents per share, its 10th consecutive annual increase. The company also said it will repurchase about $5 billion of its own shares in 2018.
“I am exceptionally proud of our performance this past year, and we enter 2018 with significant momentum,” Comcast chair and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. "Overall, we feel great about our company and our positioning as we head into the year.”