Cable companies

Collectively, the top cable companies now have more broadband subscribers than TV subscribers, a report Friday said. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / August 3, 2011)

For the first time ever, cable companies have more Internet broadband subscribers than TV service subscribers, a new report says.

At the end of the second quarter of 2014, the top cable providers served 49,915,000 broadband subscribers compared with 49,910,000 TV subscribers, according to the report by Leichtman Research Group.

It's only a slight difference of 5,000 subscribers, and many TV subscribers also pay for Internet service. But the milestone exemplifies the way business is changing for cable companies, said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group. 

"Because of competition from satellite TV providers and [telephone companies], they’ve lost subscribers over the past several years," Leichtman said, stressing that consumers are not "cutting the chord" but simply getting their TV from other kinds of companies.

With broadband service, cable companies are "really only in competition with the telephone companies, and they’re doing pretty well in that competition," he said, pointing out that cable companies added 381,000 broadband subscribers in the second quarter compared with only 2,000 by telephone companies.

But despite broadband outpacing TV, cable companies will continue to emphasize their TV service since it brings in more revenue, Leichtman said. The most successful cable companies sell bundles that include TV, broadband and telephone service, Leichtman said. 

“They’re bundled communications companies, and that's where the profit is: in selling bundled services,” he said.

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