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Cable Companies Adapt to Keep 'Cutters'

(Cable company article updated with information on Comcast's third-quarter subscriber loss.)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- TiVo (TIVO - Get Report) CEO Tom Rogers believes that cable companies should offer on demand video to combat the possibility that "cord cutters" are leaving the pay-TV ecosystem.

"It's all about giving people what they want, when they want it," Rogers said today in his presentation at the 38th annual UBS media conference.

For the second time in pay-TV history, the market lost subscribers in the third quarter. The number of pay-TV subscriptions dropped 119,000, following second-quarter declines of 216,000. The Convergence Consulting Group projects that by the fourth quarter of 2011, the number of cord cutters will reach 1.6 million.

Cable providers are now trying to prevent customer migration by offering what the industry has dubbed "TV Everywhere" to customers who continue to pay for their TV services.

Today in his presentation at the UBS conference, Time Warner Cable (TWC - Get Report) CEO Glenn Britt said that there's "no meaningful evidence" that consumers are canceling their cable service to watch television via online video, even after the company reported a loss of 155,000 video subscribers in the third quarter, compared with 64,000 one year earlier.

"The fact is, the content isn't that great," Britt said in reference to free, online video offerings. "If you want to watch old movies, or shows that aired several days ago it's fine. But if you want to watch seven or eight hours of television a day, which is how most Americans watch TV, online video isn't enough."

Rival cable company Comcast (CMCSA - Get Report) posted a 3.5% decrease in video subscribers to 22.9 from 23.8 million in the third quarter. Many speculate that the decline was a result of cord cutting, but similar to Britt, CEO Landel Hobbs denied any connection.

"We'll continue to monitor cord-cutting, but haven't found evidence where you might expect to see it," Hobbs told analysts on the earnings conference call.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Theresa McCabe.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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