AT&T Loses Nearly 1.4M TV Subscribers in Q3 2019

Company says subscriptions impacted by long-term value customer base and carriage disputes.
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DALLAS—The trend of major broadcasters and cable providers losing subscribers continued for AT&T in the third quarter of 2019, with the company announcing it lost more than 1.35 million subscribers between its premium TV and AT&T Now services.

ATT-TV

Per AT&T’s Q3 2019 financial report, the company currently has 20.4 million premium TV subscribers, a net loss of 1.163 million. AT&T Now, meanwhile, has 1.1 million subscribers, a net loss of 195,000. AT&T said that its video subs were impacted by the company’s focus on long-term value customer base and carriage disputes.

AT&T has been involved in multiple carriage disputes in 2019 that led to blackouts of certain channels for its subscribers. A dispute with Nexstar led to a blackout of two months over the summer, while one with CBS lasted three weeks. At a conference in September, AT&T CFO John Stephens said he believed that these blackouts could contribute to 300,000 to 350,000 subscribers leaving their services.

Despite the drop in subscribers, AT&T reported that its entertainment group saw growth in many areas. It reported that its operating income grew 4.8% from the same time last year; that it saw broadband ARPU gains; there was a 2.3% year-to-year EBITDA growth; and its IP broadband revenue grew 3.5%.

WarnerMedia, which is a subsidiary of AT&T, reported a stable quarter, with HBO earning increased revenues of 10.6% on higher content sales and stable subscription revenues, while Turner revenues overall remained stable.

The company is bullish of its upcoming HBOMax streaming service, which will be one of the stars of WarnerMedia Day on Oct. 29, where it is expected to have its price and release date announced. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson claims that HBOMax has a domestic subscriber forecast of 50 million by 2025.

As part of AT&T’s financial report, it also shared its three-year outlook. The full report can be read here.