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AT&T Is Losing Hundreds of Thousands of TV Subscribers Fast

By Bill Toulas / April 23, 2020

The latest AT&T report records a loss of 897,000 premium TV subscribers in Q1 2020. This massive “bleeding” comes during times of self-isolation and in-house quarantines, where people increase their consumption of media and find enjoyment and solace in binge-watching shows and TV series. If a service can’t convince its customers to stay aboard the DirecTV, U-verse TV, and AT&T TV Now, then it’s clear that you will have to reconsider your strategy fundamentally. In 2019, AT&T lost 3.43 million premium TV subscribers, and the trend continues this year, and at an increased rate.

Officially, when things started going bad, AT&T attributed the figures to the atonic promotion and higher prices. However, not much seem to have changed after a full year, and as ArsTechnica reported recently, AT&T’s new online TV service came with hidden fees, as well as a 2nd-year price hike that doubled the cost of the selected plans. The Fortune 500 giant just can’t grasp the regular pricing range that underpins the streaming service market, and it pushes for almost absurd subscription costs. AT&T TV Now Plus costs $55 per month, while the “Max” tier costs $80 per month. At some point, Plus hiked to $65 a month, which was way above the competition.

Subscribers of the U-verse IPTV service have also been complaining about service interruptions and bad reliability for a long time now. Gradually, people were forced to look elsewhere, and they did. Data from the same report records a loss of DSL clients too and, more specifically, 73,000 customers within Q1 2020. AT&T justified that by stating that competition in slower speed territories caused this loss. Compared to Q1 2019, AT&T now serves 400,000 internet customers less than before, so this aspect of their operations is taking a blow too.

As for the financial strategy and guidance, the Coronavirus pandemic isn’t allowing the company to lay out its predictions yet. For now, they are planning to make additional cost cuts to reduce their operating expenses, but it is unclear how this will affect AT&T TV Now. Right now, the service has a total of 788,000 subscribers, whereas last year, it had 1.5 million. This indicates that the platform is chipping and fading, so one cannot exclude the possibility of seeing a bold move in the context of the announced cost-cutting. The effects of the pandemic lock-down will be more evident in the Q2 2020 report, so we’ll likely see some development by then.



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