AT&T Loses Another 1.36 Million Pay TV Subscribers Thanks To Relentless Price Hikes

from the ill-communication 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 increased its efforts to nickel-and-dime users at every opportunity, recently imposing the second rate hike in just a year on its streaming TV subscribers.

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

AT&T's latest earnings report indicates that the company lost another 1.16 million video subscribers from its traditional DirecTV and IPTV TV services. The company also lost another 195,000 subscribers from its streaming TV platform, creatively dubbed AT&T TV. All told, AT&T lost another 1.36 million TV subscribers in a single quarter; again not the kind of domination AT&T expected when it decided to merge its way to sector dominance.

Like Verizon, AT&T got bored with simply running quality networks and lobbying to crush competition; both have eyed Google and Facebook ad revenues as they push harder into the video advertising space. But competition there has not been easy going for either government-pampered monopoly, Verizon's own fusion of Yahoo and AOL doing repeated face plants, mostly notably the failure of its Go90 Millennial-focused streaming platform. And while AT&T's had better luck making streaming TV and advertising inroads, these numbers clearly indicate slow sledding.

Even AT&T investors have started to grow impatient with AT&T's obsession with growth for growth's sake. After a bit of an investor revolt, AT&T had to promise it would make no major mergers or acquisitions in the next three years.

AT&T, meanwhile, has been busy trying to hype its upcoming HBO Max streaming service, the latest in an AT&T TV streaming branding effort that's so convoluted, it has confused the company's own employees. Undaunted by recent issues, AT&T's telling anybody who'll listen that the service should grab somewhere around 50 million subscribers by 2025:

"This is going to be a meaningful business for us over the next four or five years and we're talking a 50 million subscriber business and we're really enthusiastic about this," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said during an analyst call. The AT&T boss clarified his domestic forecast of 50 million subscribers was for five years to 2025."

The problem, for AT&T, is that it's already proven incapable of retaining or adding subscribers in the current market. With Apple and Disney poised to join the crowded field in November, the battle for streaming domination is only going to get harder for ma bell.

Filed Under: broadband, competition, pay tv, price hikes, subscribers, tv
Companies: at&t


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2019 @ 8:16am

    Paging Richard Bennett for damage control! Please report between Ajit Pai's legs immediately.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Customer Service, 1 Nov 2019 @ 8:24am

    Thank you for contacting AT&T Customer Service.

    Please be advised that there is a one time $100 termination fee to cancel your service.

    Please enter your payment method now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2019 @ 8:45am

      Re:

      Your call is important to us, please hold for the next available agent.
      . cue really annoying muzak .
      Your call is important to us, please hold for the next available agent.
      . cue really annoying muzak .
      Your call is important to us, please hold for the next available agent.
      . cue really annoying muzak .

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 1 Nov 2019 @ 8:51am

    They could easily get to 50 million subscribers in 2025

    if they had 100 million today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2019 @ 9:04am

      Re: They could easily get to 50 million subscribers in 2025

      Hell, starting at 100m today they could get to 50m by the end of January.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 1 Nov 2019 @ 9:12am

      Re: They could easily get to 50 million subscribers in 2025

      Alternatively...

      AT&T had to promise it would make no major mergers or acquisitions in the next three years.

      domestic forecast of 50 million subscribers was for five years to 2025.

      ... they'll have 2 years to find & acquire a streaming service with 50 million subscribers :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen F Roberts (profile), 1 Nov 2019 @ 10:05am

    Got a price hike just today

    Got a message that my monthly phone bill is going up by $10 a month. But in return they are offering me an extra 15GB a month... our family has never come anywhere close to our current limit, but there does not seem to be any way out of this "Great Offer!(tm)"... :-/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2019 @ 2:28pm

      Re: Got a price hike just today

      Last year I terminated my internet service with AT&T expecting this very thing to happen. Should my phone bill go up, it too will be cancelled. I didn't buy Time Warner nor DirectTV, I'm dang sure not gonna pay for it either.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2019 @ 5:18pm

      Re: Got a price hike just today

      This is how they got me to leave.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BurningWoodchipper (profile), 1 Nov 2019 @ 10:07am

    I'd quit AT&T if i could.

    But my only other option is Comcast, which is verifiably worse.

    My bill jumped $32 last month... evidently PART of my discount expired. And after 28 minutes chatting with a rep, I discovered I can't cancel any part of my service without calling their 800 number.

    monopolies suck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kevin Hayden, 1 Nov 2019 @ 10:38am

    CEO was misquoted

    What Randall Stephenson was actually trying to say was it would be a "$50 million per subscriber business by 2025".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 1 Nov 2019 @ 10:40am

    Cut off your D... to get an extra 1"..

    I thought it was bad that we all had to pay for ESPN..
    So, you go hog wild to purchase a Corp, you have little understanding up. Fire at least 1/4 of that personnel,
    Dont think of the BASIC concepts of Business..."If it aint going well NOW, why the hell are you buying something Else, that Isnt doing well.

    The Ideal concept would have been...DROP PRICES.. 10-15% and you would of gained Million of people...EVEN LOCK the prices for the Full CONTRACT...not just the first year..

    there is only 1 reason for this(a few really).
    Dropping the stock price.
    Cutting their Own throats.
    Selling off to another Corp..For Less money then they spent, making it a LOSS, and no taxes..

    Anyone think ATT is being a Stooge?? A front corp to get all these other corps under 1 Corp...then to sell off to another at a lowball price..(seen it before)

    Dump all the debt..as I dont think they have Paid the Whole amounts, for those corps yet..
    ATT is an LLC(no large corp is supposed to be LLC, or ever should be)
    Boss, Managers, CEO, and all hte heads in the the different sections of this corp, can walk away as NOT responsible...
    For being idiots,
    Not knowing basic Corp laws(or do they)
    Caring for customers..
    For anything and everything..
    Just sell it off and not loose any sleep as you have all been paid, and WE CANT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT..

    Unless, we can prove Malfeasance, and that they did this on purpose with Forethought..MAYBE..if we get a good judge.
    But is this Wrong doing? NO law against it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JdL (profile), 1 Nov 2019 @ 11:01am

    I quit DirecTV Now

    Not only were they raising prices, they were ridiculously incompetent: if you saved a movie to (cloud) DVR and tried to play it later, there was an even chance the sound would go out of sync with the picture halfway through. I don't mean by an irritating half-second, but by maybe 20 seconds. Worthless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2019 @ 11:52am

    although the subject is different, the principle is the same. a Nordic country, possibly Sweden but unsure now as it happened quite a while back, was continuously losing money on its train service. the action agreed and taken was to drastically reduce the cost of train travel. the result was that the debt previously incurred was paid, the trains were running at far greater occupancy and frequency, with extra trains having to be brought into service on the more popular routes and the roads were far less congested, leading to fewer accidents and fewer road repairs plus cargo that couldn't be moved by train and had to continue to use the roads was held up less which also helped and pleased customers. it was a complete win. the moral being, if prices are at a rate that customers can afford and feel are fair considering the service they get, they use that service more and profits increase rather than decrease. the likes of Comcast and others are so focused on screwing customers over, they see nothing but price increases, not just as a way to make a service profitable for them but also as a way of enticing investors. what a ridiculous way of carrying on thinking when it has failed multiple times already!! still, you cant put sense where there isn't room for it to fit, can you!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bill Jackson (profile), 3 Nov 2019 @ 12:49am

    As they lose subscribers

    They also reduce the amount they have to pay for their feeds - which are all individually metered and the pay per view charges tallied. This balancing act has an end point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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