AT&T, which lost roughly four million TV subscribers in 2019, has quietly dropped the price for new subscribers to its two leading TV services, DIRECTV and U-verse.
New subscribers to DIRECTV can now pay $49.99 a month for the first year of its Select plan (155 channels), compared to $59.99 previously; $59.99 a month for the first year of its Choice plan (185 channels), compared to $69.99 a month previously; and $74.99 a month for the first year of its Ultimate package (250 channels), compared to $84.99 a month previously.
The plans require a two-year agreement. Starting month 13, the monthly rate goes to $85 a month for Select; $115 a month for Choice; and $142 for Ultimate.
AT&T has also lowered the first year price for U-verse’s U-Family plan, the company’s basic plan with 180 channels, from $59.99 a month to $49.99 a month. The price goes to $87 a month in month 13.
The telco this week unveiled the new prices at its web site, and the DIRECTV.com web site without a formal announcement. The offer’s fine print says the new pricing structure is good until March 28, 2020.
AT&T has struggled to attract and keep subscribers to both U-verse and DIRECTV since assuming control over the latter in 2015. The two services have combined for a net loss of six million subscribers in the four and one-half years since AT&T officially purchased DIRECTV.
While cord-cutting is a contributor to the defections, rival pay TV service Comcast has lost ‘just’ 1.1 million subscribers during that time, far less than the six million lost by AT&T. (Comcast had 22.2 million at the end of the second quarter of 2015.)
AT&T now sits behind Comcast in total video subscribers. The cable operator reported having 21.2 million at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019 after losing 149,000 in the period.
The telco giant reported that DIRECTV and U-verse had 20.4 million subscribers at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019 after it lost 945,000 combined in the three month period. (AT&T no longer breaks out the subscriber numbers for DIRECTV and U-verse, choosing instead to combine them.)
Clearly, AT&T hopes the lower prices will make the first quarter of 2020 look a bit better.
Final note: There is no corresponding price cut for AT&T TV Now, the company’s live streaming service.
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— Phillip Swann