AT&T reported today that it lost a net of 627,000 video subscribers in the third quarter. That includes DIRECTV, U-verse, AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now, but the lion’s share of defections likely came from DIRECTV. (AT&T does not break out subscriber numbers for DIRECTV, U-verse and AT&T TV; it did report that AT&T TV Now lost a net of 37,000 subscribers.)

While the quarterly losses were considerably less than last year’s third quarter when AT&T’s TV services lost a whopping 1.4 million, the continued exodus of subscribers will further fuel speculation that the company will sell DIRECTV in the near future; it would surprise few if AT&T also tried to jettison U-verse and AT&T TV Now which are also experiencing significant sub declines. (In contrast, AT&T is expected to continue investing in AT&T TV, which launched nationwide just eight months ago.)

AT&T’s investor briefing, which was released today, blamed greater competition among video providers as a major reason for the continued subscriber defections by DIRECTV and U-verse.

“(Loss) due to competition as well as lower gross adds from continued focus on adding higher value customers,” the company stated.

As for AT&T TV Now, one of the company’s two multi-channel live streaming services, AT&T blamed “less promotional activity.”

AT&T today said its TV services had 17.783 million subscribers at the end of the third quarter. In the third quarter of 2015, shortly after AT&T purchased DIRECTV, the company had nearly 26 million, 19.57 million from DIRECTV and 5.9 million from U-verse.

That means that AT&T has lost nearly eight million video subscribers in the last five years since purchasing the nation’s largest satellite TV service.

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— Phillip Swann