AT&T says it lost roughly 90,000 net video subscribers in the third quarter due a variety of factors, according to a company 8K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
However, it’s unclear if AT&T’s DIRECTV or U-verse has greater responsibility for the bulk of the losses. In the filing, the company does not break out the specific subscriber totals, and/or losses, for each TV service it owns.
AT&T does say that DIRECTV Now, the company’s live streaming service, added around 300,000 net subscribers in the third quarter, but that the company lost around 90,000 in total. Since AT&T owns both DIRECTV and U-verse, that would mean those two services combined for roughly 390,000 net sub losses.
Despite some news reports claiming AT&T said DIRECTV suffered “heavy” losses in the quarter, it’s unclear if that’s true. In recent financial quarters, U-verse has actually experienced far greater subscriber losses than DIRECTV due in part to the company’s effort to convert U-verse subscribers to the satellite service.
AT&T is expected to release the entire 2017 third quarter report in the coming weeks. That will then reveal the actual sub numbers for both DIRECTV and U-verse and tell us if one service fared more poorly than the other.
In the 8K SEC filing, AT&T blamed the 90,000 net losses on everything from hurricanes to increasing competition to new live streaming services, which would include its own DIRECTV Now.
“The video net losses were driven by heightened competition in traditional pay TV markets and over-the-top services, hurricanes and our stricter credit standards,” AT&T stated. “The decline of traditional video subscribers negatively impacts our Entertainment Group revenues and margins, resulting in an adjusted consolidated operating income margin that will be essentially flat versus the year-ago third quarter.”
AT&T’s disclosure that DIRECTV Now gained a net of 300,000 subscribers in the third quarter means that the live streamer now has around 800,000. Despite recurring technical difficulties, DIRECTV Now has been able to continue to grow its subscriber base. (The service launched in November 2016.)
— Phillip Swann