All The Mergers In The World Apparently Can't Save AT&T From Cord Cutting

from the old-school dept

Over the last five years AT&T and Verizon have been desperately trying to pivot from stodgy, protectionist old telcos — to sexy new Millennial media juggernauts. And while this pivot effort has been notably expensive, the net result has been somewhat underwhelming. Verizon, for example, spent billions to gobble up AOL and Yahoo, but its lack of savvy in the space has so far culminated in a privacy scandal, a major hacking scandal, a quickly shuttered website where reporters couldn’t write about controversial subjects, and a fairly shitty Millennial streaming service that even Verizon’s own media partners have called a “dud.”

Verizon’s new CEO Hans Vestberg appears to have gotten the message (that stodgy old telcos kind of suck at disruption and innovation) and has been shifting Verizon back toward its core competency: running networks.

AT&T’s efforts have been notably more expensive than Verizon’s, but just as underwhelming. The company first decided to shell out $70 billion for a satellite TV provider (DirecTV) on the eve of the cord cutting revolution. And, after a lengthy DOJ lawsuit, shelled out another $89 billion for Time Warner in a quest to gain broader media and advertising relevance. That was paired with the launch of a new streaming service, DirecTV Now, which the company hoped would help it beat back the tide of cord cutting.

Despite hundreds of billions in acquisition costs and debt, it’s not working. The company saw a another net loss of 297,000 TV customers last quarter as the company’s traditional TV services (DirecTV and AT&T’s IPTV service) lost 346,000 subscribers, and the company’s shiny new DirecTV Now service only added 49,000 subscribers during the third quarter. To be fair, AT&T actually is more forward thinking than a lot of other cable operators in that it’s embracing cheaper streaming alternatives fully. But the company still couldn’t help itself when it came to quickly pushing price hikes, the primary reason for last quarter’s dip:

“In July, AT&T raised DirecTV Now prices by $5 per month across the board in hopes of making the service profitable. More importantly, AT&T also stopped offering incredible device deals to new subscribers. Until this summer, new customers could get a free Roku Streaming Stick (regularly $50) with a month of $35 prepaid service, or a free Apple TV 4K (regularly $180) with three months of prepaid service at $105. There was nothing stopping customers from signing up, immediately canceling, and walking away with a new streaming device at far below retail prices.”

On the plus side, AT&T’s strategy of getting out ahead of the streaming revolution isn’t entirely unsound. You’d rather be ahead of a trend and take some early hits, than be utterly blindsided while sticking to old habits (oh hi ESPN, didn’t see you standing there). But AT&T being, well, AT&T, you just know it won’t be able to help itself when it comes to nickel-and-diming its users, something that’s going to be made immeasurably easier if it’s successful at gutting both federal and state consumer protection authority.

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Companies: at&t, verizon

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Comments on “All The Mergers In The World Apparently Can't Save AT&T From Cord Cutting”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If they want people to stop cutting the cord or Cutting the AIR, how about stop jacking prices up and screwing people over. Good customer service would also help.

Before I cut the cord, I had HD TV DVR Box and Showtime, and the Internet. I was 1 person at the time in my place, and my Bill just kept on shooting up until at one point it was $180 a month. I couldn’t justify that bill. There is just no way I could ever watch enough TV or use the Internet enough for that kind of bill.

I dropped Showtime to start with, dropped some channels. But the price kept on going up. I said screw this. I walked into the Comcast store and handed them my HD Cable box, and said I didn’t want any TV anymore. Internet ONLY. This was about the time I was going to also start looking for a house. They got me on an Internet-only plan which was a deal at the time. So I started saving a bunch of money!!!

I’m back on Comcast once again. I call every year when my bill goes UP, to get onto another year plan to drop the rates back down. This time I talked them into an Internet Only plan that was cheaper than the Bundle. Not by a lot, but cheaper. This is their scam to keep people paying for TV. FOrce you into a Bundle which is normally cheaper than Internet only. it’s Basic TV, Local Channels. The year before, that was what I had. Plus a free basic cable Box. I NEVER hooked that box up. It stayed in the package it came in. I still Got my TV from the Antenna, because I can record to my TIVO. So F the cable company.

There really needs far more competition than really nothing. DSL is a joke. Wireless is not really a solution. The phone company should have been running FIBER all these years. Upgrading Houses with a real FIBER connection which could handle all future needs. Since they won’t do it, we need the Town’s and City’s to do their own service. They are the ones that created this Monopoly, and they need to do something about it. I could have Time Warner, Comcast, and others all fighting for my business, in the same town.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Two things they do get right

we voted them all in too.

But no one wants to take the responsibility around here. Everyone has their fingers in their ears going la al ala lalaaaaaa once they have checked R or D at the ballot box.

As long as we stopped that other asshole from getting elected… right?

mcinsand (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 No, not everyone

We might actually have some agreement when it comes to US partisan ‘logic,’ but not everyone blindly votes by party. We didn’t all vote these jokers in. Some of us are determined to see who is selling us out less with each election. Make no mistake, though. With the funding required to run for any of these offices, the deck is firmly stacked against anyone that is not going to sell votes and positions in advance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No, not everyone

Why does this place have a problem with basic reading comprehension?

We does not equal 100% of all of us. Of course someone did not vote for them, but collectively we did!

And as long as you hold the opinion that funding is required to run for office then we are going to stay in this situation. You are already defeated.

And regarding people blindly voting for party… same thing… just because you can find me an example of someone not doing that, the majority in fact ARE! It’s how we got to here in the first place.

mcinsand (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 No, not everyone

>Why does this place have a problem with basic reading
>>We does not equal 100% of all of us.

May I suggest an ESL course? If you think that ‘we’ does not imply 100%, then you really don’t have enough understanding of the English language to be commenting. If a person fluent in English doesn’t mean to imply 100%, then that person would write either ‘some of us’ or ‘most of us.’

Bless your heart.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 No, not everyone

I suggest you try a dictionary. It is not my fault you are ignorant of the meaning of words, you were expected to “learn” that some time ago.

You can also run your ignorance by an English language professor… perhaps them calling you a fucking moron would work out better than some random AC on the internet.

mcinsand (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 No, not everyone

>You can also run your ignorance by an English
>>language professor…

Well that was easy. My daughter teaches English at a university. I think she’s still laughing at your assertions. She came to the same conclusion that I did, if you think that ‘we’ didn’t imply inclusion of all of us, then you can’t be a native English speaker.

Ironic that you’re calling others’ intelligence into question.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 No, not everyone

That’s funny, I know someone that teaches it as well… and they said the same about you. So lets look up the definition.

Now please tell me where “WE” either “implies” or “states” that it means 100% of all of us?

and you really do have a daughter that teaches English at a University agreeing with you… then I feel sorry for her students. There is nothing worse that being taught by a moron that is quickly dispatched by a fucking dictionary!

While words can change meaning over time because of morons like you… right now the dictionary is calling you and your daughter wrong. You need to convince a lot more people that We = 100%. Until then… you are just going to be running around the internet being proven wrong.

pronoun: we

used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself and one or more other people considered together.
“shall we have a drink?”
used to refer to the speaker together with other people regarded in the same category.
“nobody knows kids better than we teachers do”
people in general.
“we should eat as varied and well-balanced a diet as possible”
used in formal contexts for or by a royal person, or by a writer or editor, to refer to himself or herself.
“in this section we discuss the reasons”

Chip says:

Re: Re: Re:6 No, not everyone

I talk to an “Engilsh” Porfessor!

He taught me “eveything” I Know, like how to Use “quotation” MARKS and capital “letters”!

He was my MENTOR at Smilin’ Jim’s “Unacredited” Forth Grade Acamedy. Also he was a “graduit” of There. Also he was a “ppodle”.

Some people say that “dog” was not Really a English “porfessor”, because “poodle” can’t be PROFESSORS. Those people are “morons” and Knobs, who think that there should be Regulations for “who” gets to be a Professor, instead of lettign the Free Market “decide”!

“In Conclusion”, I am very “good” at Tnglish, not like you “morons” and KNOBS who are very Stupid and not SMART like “me”. Talk to a English professor, you “knobs”!

Every Nation eats the Paint chips it Deserves!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 No, not everyone

You may not be aware of this, after all the paint chips you have eaten Mr. Lead Paint Licker, but just a dictionary is sufficient here… a “professor”, real or imaginary, is unnecessary. Besides, it is doubtful you posses the capacity to understand the words that are coming out of anyone’s mouth… not even your own.

Sharur says:

Re: Re: Re:5 No, not everyone

On the contrary, Mcinsad. I am a native English speaker, and I hear “we” to mean less than 100% all the time. “We, the team” can fail to meet our goal for the week/month/quarter, even if 90% have met the goal.

“We” did vote “all these jokers” into office, collectively. Individually, we may not have, but collectively we have.

In the same way that, say, one could say of the US Supreme Court, “they” ruled this way on a case, even if 4/9ths were against the ruling (and with concurring opinions, the remaining 5/9ths may be fractured as to WHY the ruling should be what it is).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 No, not everyone

“I belive Funds should “not” be REQUIRED to Run for Office!”

he said “the funds necessary” meaning that he is talking about the fact that “A LOT” of money is required… NOT that any money is required. Try to keep up Mr. Lead Paint licker.

“I also Believe that all regulations are GBAD and also Government “spending” is Bad!”

I never said that. But if you are going to lie, might as well just go for the gusto eh?

“Why won’t you Morons reconize how SmartI m!”

It should be phrased… “Why won’t you Morons recognize how stupid YOU are being”. How smart I am has nothing to do with this… the problem doth lay in thine other direction.

“Every Nation eats the Paint chips it Deserves!”

that is not the correct quote from Obama… the correct quote is..
“you get the politicians you deserve.”

Now, you might be onto something here, which is impressive for a moron like you… I think politicians should be equally comparable to “paint chips”. Neither are healthy for anyone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 No, not everyone

You worked very hard to earn the ridicule you are getting. I know being a stupid, repretituve, insufferable, intellectually lazy, smug, jackass, must be it’s own reward. But getting the recognition for doing so day in, day out, despite all the people trying to beat some form of sense into you, should be a cause for celebration.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Two things they do get right

“we voted them all in too.”

No I did not.
You are wrong and will not admit it.

Why should one take responsibility for things they had nothing to do with? Many try to fix the screw ups made by others and they are commendable for their unselfishness but that is not called “taking responsibility” that is being human. Taking responsibility implies admitting to doing wrong, facing the consequences and making amends, but I do not think that is what you are talking about when you use the word “responsibility” now is it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Two things they do get right

Greetings dear moron. “WE” are all in this together. Finding an exception does not negate the correct usage of WE in this situation.

“You are wrong and will not admit it.”

You seem to have a problem with facts, including well known ones. Maybe you get some help with that.

“Why should one take responsibility for things they had nothing to do with?”

You seem to have a problem with understanding the difference between “responsibility” and “fault”. It may not be your fault individually for who was voted in, but collectively you still have a responsibility to help deal with issues.

So go back to whatever “not problem” hole you crawled out of. You are not helping and only adding to the problem.

DinosaurBrain says:

Re: Re:

Recall Dinosaur anatomy 101.
The Brontosaurus was so large that it had to have multiple brains to control their body.

Just like the extinct Brontosaurus, Verizon is so large that the time between the fore brain first saw or heard of AOL and Yahoo, and when the mid-brain grasped that they were popular, and told the hind-brain to purchase those companies, decades had passed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What a moronic statement… they are obviously paying attention to them… they just are not using that information in a way that you like. Why are they idiots? I don’t see you rolling around in fats stacks of cash. Envy much? Looks like you should have just exactly no problem dealing with these idiots and solving this problem for us. So get hopping!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Having money does not in any way imply anything about one’s level of intelligence, knowledge, experience, or anything other than the fact of possessing wealth. One would think this to be obvious, but I am amazed everyday.

“Using that information in a way that” … I like you say ..
perhaps you are referring to the desires of a stock holder and how said stock holder is a moron because they think the C-Suite types are wasting company assets on frivolous mergers with no potential. Did you mean like that?

Solving what problem? The fact that C-Suite spent loads upon clearly poor investments? Other than purchasing a majority position how would one solve their “problem” when clearly they do not want inference in their delusional activities?

Anonymous Coward says:

To be fair to the dinosaurs (cable providers), they haven’t quite grasped (even yet) that the model for delivery of entertainment has changed and so has the expectations of the public (regardless of age).

The Internet made it possible to actually interact with the content provider in a way that was not previously possible. We (the public) can individually ask for what we would like (i.e. browse a list of available shows) and they (the content deliverer) can send it to us faster than we can view it.

This is VASTLY different from the previous model that did not have the individual interaction or the bandwidth (think over-the-air broadcast of analog video) to operate in that manner.

The dinosaurs are also faced with the problem that they are the middle-man and the ends are now able to talk to each-other directly. The content providers like Disney can set-up their own streaming service.

Also, back in the early days of cable, the problem was signal reliability. Over the air broadcast has issues during bad weather or over great distances (and big receiving antennas are expensive). Cable offered a solution of reliably receiving the signal and getting signals that the consumer couldn’t pick up. The Internet solves that same problem.

Now we have people who are looking at the new realities with a different question. Why am I paying to get access to entertainment twice? First time by paying the delivery provider (Netflix or the cable company) directly and then again indirectly by having to sit through commercials (only from the cable company)? This doesn’t make sense. Especially when we all know that the cable company has to pay the content provider a re-broadcast license fee.

Anonymous Coward says:

yeah 'cord cutting'

about that…
if you’re still paying the same ISP, are you really cutting the cord?
if you’re paying nearly the same amount (if not more), to the same ISP, because you’re no longer ‘bundling’–are you really cutting the cord??

instead of ‘cutting the cord’, time to start calling it ‘un-bundling’

Anonymous Coward says:

AT&T’s $5 increase wasn’t to make its purchases profitable. This was added because local networks were about to force blackouts again.

AT&T may get some well deserved hate, but I have to defend them on this one.

AT&T isn’t the only dinosaur fighting extinction. The assholes who think licensing is still relevant over a “broadcast channel” are even worse.

tweak (profile) says:

Part of their shrinking customer base for DirecTV has also got to be related to how the service has completely sucked ass since AT&T took over. When it was independent, things worked, customer service was easy to reach, etc.
Now, they’ve removed all customer service options other than a single phone number (so there are no chat or email options any more), and the phone reps try to upsell you every damn thing they can every time they open their mouths.
But the worst part is the service itself! The recently rolled out a new UI for their boxes which is just buggy as hell. Issues that somehow made it through testing include things like how only about 50% of your saved recordings show up under the “ALL Recordings” category on the DVR, or how normal usage makes the box slow to a craw after a couple days, requiring you to do a 10-minute reboot of the system, or how the settings/menu system is now a huge pain to navigate, etc.
Judging from the various online communities (AVS Forums, Reddit, etc), the new low in customer service that AT&T brought along with the new terrible UI and associated hardware problems were enough to send quite a few people over the edge.

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