DIRECTV Now’s subscriber growth slowed dramatically in the first quarter, according to Bloomberg News.
Quoting “people familiar with the matter,” the news service writes that DIRECTV Now had 328,000 subscribers at the end of January, but lost a net of 3,000 in February and stayed flat in March.
AT&T has reported that the live streaming service had more than 200,000 paying subscribers at the end of 2016. (The service launched on November 30.)
If the Bloomberg report is correct, the sudden decline in subscriber growth could raise questions regarding the viability of new live streaming services such as DIRECTV Now, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Layer3, Hulu and PlayStation Vue.
However, it should be noted that DIRECTV Now suffered serious technical issues in the first 3-4 months of service, which would have likely contributed heavily to subscriber defections during that time period.
While its live streaming rivals have also experienced occasional technical hiccups, DIRECTV Now’s problems rose to a new level of frustration for viewers who often couldn’t watch a channel for more than a few minutes, or even log in.
DIRECTV Now’s technical performance has improved in recent weeks, but subscribers are still complaining.
Also worth noting: Discovery CEO David Zaslav said at the end of March that DIRECTV Now had 400,000 subscribers, which would contradict the Bloomberg News report. If Zaslav is correct (and he should be privy to certain subscriber information; his channels are on DIRECTV Now), DIRECTV Now is continuing to add subscribers.
And Leitchman Research has estimated DIRECTV Now added 175,000 subs in the first quarter.
AT&T, which owns DIRECTV Now, refused to reveal first quarter subscriber numbers in its first quarter report.
DIRECTV Now offers a variety of programming bundles online starting at $35 a month.
— Phillip Swann