While its overall performance is still slumping, Rogers Communications is still posting broadband and IPTV subscriber gains as it grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The big Toronto-based operator reported mixed subscriber and financial results for Q4 2020 late last week as it copes with a second wave of lockdowns across Canada this winter. But its cable division continued to perform relatively well even as its wireless unit, the company's biggest, and its media division both posted notable declines from their year-ago results.
Cable holds its own
Indeed, Rogers' cable division turned in another steady quarter, with revenues climbing 3% on a year-over-year basis to C$1.02 billion ($797 million) despite slower subscriber growth. The company netted 19,000 broadband subscribers, down from 27,000 a year earlier but still a healthy rise, to close out 2020 with nearly 2.6 million subs.
Over the full year, Rogers picked up 57,000 data subs, down from 104,000 in 2019. The operator passes almost 4.6 million homes with broadband lines across the nation.
Similarly, on the IPTV side, Rogers added 71,000 IPTV subscribers in the fall quarter, down from 106,000 a year earlier but still a decent gain, to end December with 544,000 Ignite TV customers. For all of 2020, Rogers netted 218,000 IPTV subs, down from 284,000 in 2019.
The Canadian MSO also maintained its cable capex intensity margin at 22% as it trimmed back set-top box rentals and kept its equipment sell-install rate at an impressive 95% of new and upgraded customers.
"We remain focused on our Connected Home roadmap, driven by our Ignite TV product," Rogers reported in its earnings release last week. "During the past year, we have achieved significant growth in our Ignite TV subscriber base. The next steps on our roadmap include adding more apps and content to Ignite TV and launching more new products to help keep our customers connected."
Rogers, which has now racked up overall revenue and net income declines for three straight quarters, reported notable falloffs in both metrics for the entire year because of its sagging wireless and media divisions. Total revenues for all of 2020 sank 8% to C$13.9 billion ($10.9 billion) while net income plunged 22% to C$1.6 billion ($1.25 billion).
On the company's earnings call with analysts last Thursday, Rogers executives pinned the blame squarely on the pandemic. CFO Tony Staffieri said COVID-19 cost the carrier C$1.4 billion ($1.09 billion) in revenue and more than C$500 million ($391 million) in adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) over the course of 2020.
CableLabs President and CEO Phil McKinney and SCTE/ISBE President and CEO Mark Dzuban say the now-merged organizations will spur cable's rollout of 10G, DOCSIS 4.0 and fixed-wireless, as well as efforts to bridge the digital divide.
Today’s access network architecture is under mounting pressure due to a continued surge in the number of connected devices, a proliferation of bandwidth-intensive customer applications and dramatic shifts in usage patterns related to the pandemic, such as work-from-home and e-learning.
Learn why now is the right time for cable operators to build greenfield networks or expand their existing networks with 10G PON, arming customers with high-speed symmetrical broadband. Gain a clear understanding of the drivers impacting the access network and the various approaches being considered to deliver higher speed services. Plus, find out the best practices that operators are employing as they leverage the latest in passive optical technology to future-proof their networks.
Topics to be covered include:
Node + 0 (Fiber Deep)
DOCSIS 3.1, DOCSIS 4.0 (FDX/ESD)
FTTP and 10G PON
Provisioning 10G PON within a DOCSIS B/OSS environment