In what’s becoming a trend, AT&T’s quarterly earnings reports detailed massive subscriber losses during the Q1 2020.
The report itself is here, if you’re that desperate for quarantine reading material. Otherwise, you’d be better served with a variety of other breakdowns, like this one from Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica.
AT&T lost another 897,000 premium TV subscribers in Q1 2020, as the DirecTV owner’s string of massive customer losses continued. An AT&T executive today said the company is moving ahead with a company-wide cost-cutting program.
AT&T’s earnings announcement today said the 897,000-customer net loss reduced the total number of premium TV subscribers to 18.6 million. AT&T said the latest customer loss was “due to competition and customers rolling off promotional discounts as well as lower gross adds from the continued focus on adding higher-value customers.”
AT&T offers a weird variety of television services. Obviously DirecTV is the biggest one, while they also offer AT&T TV Now (formerly DirecTV Now), U-Verse TV, and the new AT&T TV, which is not the same as AT&T TV Now. (Surely all of this branding confusion is very helpful for consumers!) We’ve been covering this just about every quarter now; here’s Q4 2019 and Q3 2019, for example.
That’s not the trend you want to be on, but it’s hard to see how it’s going to change. Yes, HBO Max is set to launch, and AT&T says they’re aiming for 50 million subscribers over the next half-decade. But launching another premium service on the precipice of a potential global recession is, to put it lightly, very bad timing. Cutting the cord was popular even when the economy was good. It’s hard to imagine AT&T not continuing to lose subscribers, even just to competitors like Hulu and YouTube TV, which offer much more user-friendly options, financially and technologically.
(That the new AT&T TV requires both a contract and a separate set-top device seems downright draconian compared to the other services, especially when the perks and programming packages on offer aren’t really that much different.)
No matter how AT&T’s corporate spin attempts to sell it, this is likely going to be a continuing trend.