Only in America would Iowa's top cable provider be headquartered in New York and majority-owned by an Italian. Mediacom offers cable, Internet, and digital phone service throughout smaller markets in 23 mostly Midwestern and Southern states. Its core markets include major metropolitan areas in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri. Mediacom provides cable service to more than 1.2 million customers, more than half of whom subscribe to its digital cable service. The company also counts more than 775,000 broadband Internet customers and about 290,000 digital phone subscribers -- a number that keeps growing. Mediacom is owned by its chairman, CEO, and founder Rocco B. Commisso.
Mr. Commisso, who came to the US as a child and was an executive at Cablevision, took the company private in 2011 when he bought the remainder of shares he didn't own for $8.75 per share. The buyout followed a previous offer that was rejected as too low in 2011. Commisso founded the company in 1995; it went public in 2000 and sales hit $1 billion by 2003.
Stock prices for cable companies have traditionally been devalued by debt, competition, and a complicated shareholder structure -- Mediacom's stock was offered at $19 a share when it went public in 2000. The nation's third-largest cable company, Cox, which competes with Mediacom in the Gulf Coast region, was taken private in 2004.
Mediacom is uniquely positioned in that it mainly competes with satellite cable providers for TV customers, but DIRECTV and DISH Network are unable to provide phone service over their network. Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the nation's top two cable companies, do not operate in Iowa, which has allowed Mediacom to flourish in the Hawkeye State. About half of the company's 1.2 million customers subscribe to two or more services, such as cable and Internet, and almost 20% are "triple-play" customers who also buy phone service.
The company is the seventh-largest cable provider by overall sales, and annual revenues continue to grow at a steady rate, averaging about 5% a year. Mediacom has operated in the red for the past few years but net income shot up 1000% in 2009 due to a benefit in income taxes. By mid-2010, however, the company recorded a net loss again. – less