Comcast’s 17,000 Lost Cable Subs In Q4 Is Its Lowest Drop In 5 Years

The bleeding has finally slowed for Comcast’s cable business. Reporting its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings Wednesday, the Philadelphia-based conglomerate said it lost only 17,000 cable subscribers in the October-December period, its lowest quarterly decline in five years.

In the fourth quarter of 2010, Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) lost 135,000 subscribers. For all of 2011, its video subscriber loss declined 40 percent year over year.

Speaking to investors Wednesday morning, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts attributed the declining defections to added channels and better customer service. He also said that as housing growth improves, actual subscriber growth may return, too.

“We may not get back to full growth on video for a while, because we don’t see housing growth at the moment, but some day, that’s going to happen,” Roberts told analyst.

While also reporting that it had added 336,000 broadband subscribers in the fourth quarter, Comcast enjoyed $1.29 billion in net income for the quarter, up 26 percent.

Revenue, meanwhile, narrowly beat forecasts, totaling $15.04 billion. That was up 55 percent from a year ago, when revenue from the NBCUniversal addition still wasn’t factored in because the deal hadn’t closed. If NBCU revenue is added to the fourth quarter of 2010, the increase is only 3 percent.

For the full 2011 period, Comcast reported net income of $4.16 billion, up 14 percent over 2010. Full-year revenue was $55.8 billion, up 47 percent.