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AT&T is bleeding TV subscribers like crazy, losing over 1.3 million last quarter

Published Oct 28th, 2019 11:04AM EDT
att subscriber losses
Image: Francis Dean/Shutterstock

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You should know by now that cord-cutting is a huge headache for cable companies. But with AT&T’s diversified lineup of television services across U-verse TV, DirecTV, DirecTV Now, and AT&T TV Now, the company would seem to be well-equipped to deal with those who want to ditch traditional TV subscriptions in favor of streaming.

Apparently, that’s not the case, as AT&T’s latest quarterly report reveals that the company has lost over 1.3 million pay-TV subscribers in the third quarter alone. The losses are huge, and none of the company’s services have been immune to the exodus.

The full report (PDF here) attempts to offer an explanation for the huge loss of subscribers, blaming the loss of 1,358,000 paying customers on “customers rolling off promotional discounts,” as well as “higher prices and less promotional activity.” The company also suggests that disputes with various networks may have contributed to the losses, as customers jump ship to ensure they can continue to watch the networks that matter to them.

The losses on the internet side of the business have been noticeable as well, with a net loss of 119,000 broadband subscribers in the third quarter. Predictably, AT&T blames this on the loss of video subscribers as well, with bundled customers ditching their TV service and axing their internet service along with it.

The numbers here are huge, but none of this is all that surprising when you look at the huge amount of competition in the TV market. Streaming services are gaining traction, and even though DirecTV Now was one of the early heavy hitters in the space, there are now cheaper options available. The old battle between cable and satellite providers has evolved into a war between competing streaming services, and AT&T has clearly struggled to convert its U-verse TV customers to streaming customers within its own portfolio.