AT&T Loses 1 Million Video Users After Spending Billions On Mergers To Dominate Video

from the whoops-a-daisy dept

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go for AT&T. In AT&T executives heads, the 2015, $67 billion acquisition of DirecTV and the 2018 $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner were supposed to be the cornerstones of the company’s efforts to dominate video and online video advertising. Instead, the megadeals made AT&T possibly one of the most heavily indebted companies in the world. To recoup that debt, AT&T has ramped up its efforts to nickel-and-dime users at every opportunity, from bogus new wireless fees to price hikes on both its streaming and traditional video services.

Not too surprisingly, these price hikes are now driving subscribers to the exits.

The company’s latest earnings report indicates that AT&T not only lost another 778,000 “traditional” video subscribers last quarter (satellite TV, IPTV), but it lost another 168,000 subscribers at its DirecTV Now streaming service — due to “higher prices and less promotional activity”:

“The service had lost 83,000 subscribers in the first quarter after a 267,000 drop in the fourth quarter of 2018. As of the end of June, the service had 1.3 million subscribers. Cowen analyst Colby Synesael had predicted DirecTV Now would lose 50,000 subscribers in the second quarter. The company also lost 778,000 traditional pay TV subscribers in the second quarter between its DirecTV satellite TV and U-Verse services after losing 544,000 in the first quarter, citing “an increase in customers rolling off promotional discounts, competition and lower gross adds due to a focus on the long-term value customer base.”

Keep in mind this is happening before the playing field gets flooded with new competitors, like Disney’s new Disney+ service, which is expected to launch this November. Disney’s pulling most of its content off of services like Netflix and making it exclusive to its platform. Other companies, like Apple and Comcast, also have new streaming ventures in the works with a similar focus on exclusives. As competition heats up, many of these companies are going to be happy to take a temporary loss to establish market share. AT&T can’t do that because it’s swimming in debt.

Granted, AT&T still has some tricks up its sleeve. Its successful lobbying gambit to kill net neutrality and erode FCC authority over telecom means nobody will really be minding the store as AT&T begins using its dominance of broadband to its tactical advantage. While ISPs have tried to remain on their best behavior as they wait for the result of the multi-AG lawsuit against the FCC (which would restore the net neutrality rules if the FCC loses), AT&T has still managed to try and test the waters with anti-competitive moves like only making usage caps apply to competitors’ services.

Should the FCC win its lawsuit, you can expect AT&T’s anti-competitive efforts to quickly become far more creative and way less subtle. Because if there’s anything history tells us about natural, government-pampered monopolies like AT&T, they’re terrible at innovating their way through direct, head to head competition, as these latest quarterly numbers clearly attest. And when you can’t win in fair head to head competition, you cheat. It’s the American way!

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Companies: at&t, directv, time warner

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Comments on “AT&T Loses 1 Million Video Users After Spending Billions On Mergers To Dominate Video”

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Wapakoneta says:

government-pampered monopolies

yeah, AT&T has been a ‘government-pampered monopoly’ for well over a century despite the supposed consumer-protection of the FCC, FTC, and Anti-Trust law.
Even the heralded ‘break up of AT&T’ into the Baby-Bells merely bestowed government enforced monopolies to those Baby-Bells in their geographic regions.

But these current AT&T dollar losses demostrate that consumer choice and normal market competitive forces work well.
FatCat AT&T executives are getting a stroong message from consumers.
(but Congressmen are immune to such economic signals from the public and to any comprehension of basic economics)

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m still waiting for AT&T to start pulling the plug on people for saying "men are not women" — or better yet, for words spoken outside of AT&T’s service. Or enacting lifetime bans that prevent people from ever using the service again.

Maybe if AT&T had merged with Twitter or Paypal, or a host of other Silicon Valley companies, that would indeed be the case. Since Google already calls itself "The Good Censor" then maybe AT&T can call itself "The Even Better Censor."

But first things first … disconnecting the accounts of spammers (AKA telemarketers) would be a good first step toward eradicating all the little annoyances of society one thing at a time, Silicon Valley style.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You don’t have the right to force your speech upon someone else’s platform.

But why does that rule seemingly only apply to west-coast internet companies and not to AT&T’s platform? (no doubt many people would rather be kicked off their cellphone provider than Facebook or Twitter) Does section 230 need to be expanded to cover ‘old-school’ telecommunication companies and thus even the playing field?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Phone companies and ISP’s for that matter, are communications providers, While social media platforms are publishing platforms. They have different functions, and therefore different rules apply. One difference is if a social media platform chucks you off, you can move on to another platform. If your one and only communications provider chucks you off, you will have difficulty living a normal life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Why would AT&T do any of that stuff you said?"

Maybe because the west-coast internet "platform" companies are already practicing such forms of censorship that practically no company from the pre-internet era would even think of doing. Listings for guns and accessories are banned from Ebay and Amazon (but freely sold at brick and mortar stores like Walmart), and YouTube has demonetized all gun channels, as well as issued "strikes" against people for posting videos years ago of perfectly legal activities such as building guns or demonstrating bump-fire stocks. Paypal and Patreon are notorious for banning people upon receiving rumors that they are engaging in wrongthink (off-platform) or even just being accused of being friendly to people who do. Twitter has banned the campaign accounts of several wrongthinking British Parliament candidates, despite those accounts being run by third parties and which did not in themselves break any Twitter rules. Facebook compiles secret files on people, including their off-internet private lives, in a way that’s eerily similar to the East German Stasi or China’s "social credit" system, and punishes them accordingly.

So the question is, when is AT&T going to step out from the past and start doing things the modern Silicon Valley way?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So the question is, when is AT&T going to step out from the past and start doing things the modern Silicon Valley way?

This question is invalid and has no meaning in the real world. Maybe if AT&T hosted a site that allowed UGC such as YouTube or a blogging platform, then yes, they are able to do the same things that Google et al. are doing.

Give me an example of how AT&T could benefit if it could act the same as the "west-coast internet platforms".

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Give me an example of how AT&T could benefit if it could act the same as the "west-coast internet platforms".

PR maybe? I’m still trying to figure out how PayPal, Stripe, GoDaddy, Apple, Google, and a number of other tech companies benefited from banning "free speech" platform Gab.

Sometimes these ‘wrongthink’ bans directly affect profits, and in measurable ways. (i.e., "get woke/go broke") When Patreon banned Carl "Sargon" Benjamin, Patreon immediately lost dozens of subscribers as a result, some of them among Patreon’s top money-makers, and Patreon competitor Subscriber went from just a handful of accounts to about two thousand today. Jacqueline Hart, Patreon’s Trust & Safety manager, the person who doles out bans, was a long-term employee at Paypal, and apparently still had some hooks in her former employer, as Paypal quickly banned Subscribestar from its service after Patreon started losing a flood of customers to Subscribestar.

That all happened last year, and since then i haven’t heard of any more high-profile bans at Patreon, which previously seemed to happen every couple of months or so. So maybe Patreon, realizing its money-losing mistake, made a decision to ease back its ban hammer (as well as perhaps worrying about a possible federal anti-trust investigation over its apparent collusion with Paypal to crush an emerging Patreon competitor).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Sometimes these ‘wrongthink’ bans

There is your problem right there!!!! There is no such thing as a "wrongthink ban" and for as many times as people come here saying essentially the same thing, not once has a single shred of proof been presented that would back up your assertion.

So for the 500 billionth time, where is one shred of proof of a "wrongthink ban" that wasn’t the result of somebody being banned for acting like an asshole in one form or another?

BTW, please answer the questions I posed in an earlier comment:

an algorithm exclude you from society for wrongthink.

I am waiting to find out what algrorithm exists and where it exists that would exclude me from all society for "wrongthink".

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

So for the 500 billionth time, where is one shred of proof of a "wrongthink ban" that wasn’t the result of somebody being banned for acting like an asshole in one form or another?

I’m assuming this is the same poster that goes on about how white superiority is just a fact and people shouldn’t keep banning him for telling them that. (He said he had to make 3 new Reddit accounts the other day.) If so, he honestly doesn’t understand that he’s being banned because he’s an asshole. He’s just spouting racist, offensive tripe and gets all snowflake melty when people downvote him…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

There is no such thing as a "wrongthink ban"

Patreon would apparently disagree. Patreon says that when deciding to ban someone, they look at a person’s "entire brand" (presumably both online and offline behavior) and not just the things that person says on Patreon’s platform or on their content funded through Patreon.

From Patreon’s reply to Carl Benjamin as to why he was banned:

"we take creators’ entire brand into account during our review. … this is also what makes your appearances on other sites relevant to the project you fund on Patreon."

Alex Jones, who was banned from numerous platforms, one after another, within a two or three day period, might be another example of a "wrongthink ban" –assuming of course that getting rich by spouting numerous looney conspiracy theories counts as Wrongthink.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

He’s talking about the one that convinced people that Sandy Hook was made up and to go and harass the parents of the murdered children about "crisis actors".

It’s not "wrongthink" he was banned for, but a series of outrageous lies that were have very real and very dangerous offline consequences.Yet, the people who attend his echo chambers (which, ironically, absolutely do practice banning people for mere dissent) are not informed enough to understand the difference.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Go back to where you people came from

Every single one of you nutters who stumble out from whatever chan you live under. You come here thinking that whatever passes for discourse in the shithole you came from, will fly here. Then you get your shit pushed back in and slink back off. Not a one of you knows the difference between correlation and causation. Mischief less what a citation is. Or appear to have basic pattern recognition skills either.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

"Alex Jones, who was banned from numerous platforms"

Alex Jpnes wasn’t barred for "wrongthink", he was barred for launching various campaigns of lies that led to people with guns shooting at pizza places looking for fictional pedophile rings and the parents of murder victims being physically harrassed and told they hired actors to pretend to be murdered.

Ironically, the only examples of "wrongthink" bans I can think of are right-wing cesspools like Infowars and Breitbart, where users are regularly banned for daring to point out the bullshit peddled there.

TDR says:

Re: Re: Re:4

Not to say I agree with him or anything, but the way you responded makes it come across like you’re saying "quote me a source from a site I happen to like and agree with" which implies a pre-existing bias on your part. Not saying there is, I just wanted to pointed out what you sounded like, is all. I don’t think there’s anything to what he’s saying either, I just thought you might want be more careful about how you respond so you don’t sound like you’re just asking for a source that fits your supposed biases.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5

If you can give me a reason to trust Breitbart News, a.k.a. the same website that…

  • knowingly edited videos of and falsely reported on a speech by Shirley Sherrod to paint her as a racist
  • hired Milo Yiannopoulos, who was fired after he defended pederasty but not for consulting multiple White supremacists on an article about the so-called “alt-right”
  • promoted the misleading “gotcha” videos of James O’Keefe until he and his crew were caught (allegedly) trying to wiretap the office of Senator Mary Landrieu
  • saw its CEO become part of the Trump campaign (and later the Trump administration), thus removing any possibility of “objective” or “unbiased” reporting on Trump and his presidency

…I’d love to hear it.

TDR says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I didn’t say that, but I noticed that people love bashing places like that without providing actual evidence of their claims. If they’ve done the things you’ve said, fine, but provide actual evidence instead of simply saying they did. You demand those you argue with do it, so you and others who say the same things should be doing the same when you make claims, no matter what they are.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7

If they’ve done the things you’ve said, fine, but provide actual evidence instead of simply saying they did.

Next time you want to question claims of fact so easily provable that ten seconds on Google or Wikipedia can give you the proof you need, maybe go to Google and Wikipedia first.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"So the question is, when is AT&T going to step out from the past and start doing things the modern Silicon Valley way?"

An awful lot of text to arrive at your question.

You are referring to the AT&T that provides phone services I presume. The phone system and the internet system are two different things and are subject to two separate and distinct set of rules set forth (or not) by congress. Demanding that one of them follow the rules of the other is not going to get you very far. But I suspect that you knew all that.

Anonymous Coward says:

For a long time I had no choice for internet access but AT&T. Was the only game in town. I don’t consider satellite access to be worth paying for with it’s limitations. Searches for new ISPs turned up ads for them but when you called you found out they didn’t exist in my area.

Recently a new provider has come to town. I left AT&T over atrocious service, making up conditions to provide them with yet more income for no better product or service. I’m very glad I did. I now have no contract to deal with, 25 times better speed, and no increase in price from my new provider, no caps to deal with, and no walled garden saying I’d wind up paying more to use the service with someone else’s material, such as Netflx.

Sort of seen the handwriting on the wall that all these make believe new conditions to bring in more money was coming, considering all the debt AT&T saddled themselves with. I feel lucky, I left before more of these antics started happening.

Zof (profile) says:


A lot of their properties are in industries that are being eaten alive by bad actors pushing narratives and plots and changes that don’t resonate with the PAYING customer. So you have these franchises that are pandering to people that… simply don’t spend money. Don’t get me wrong, It’s great seeing social change being forced on America. Just… you don’t typically make money off experiments or forced indoctrination propaganda. You typically pay through the nose for it. They simply are.

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