After multiple price hikes, dwindling channel offerings, and a confusing rebrand, AT&T TV Now (formerly known as DirecTV Now) has lost 713,000 subscribers — 37% of its customer base — in just 12 months.
In its Q3 2019 report, AT&T revealed it had lost 195,000 streaming subscribers during the quarter, bringing its total number of customers down to 1,145,000. A year ago, the service (then named DirecTV Now), had 1.86 million subscribers.
The once-popular live streaming service, which offered customers a way to get popular channels like ESPN, CNN, HGTV, and others without cable or satellite, has been in a steady nosedive over the past year, and it’s not hard to figure out why.
Streaming Gets Expensive
Since last summer, AT&T’s live streaming service has seen 3 separate price increases. In July 2018, the base ‘Live a Little’ package that offered about 60 channels jumped $5 a month, from $35 to $40.
In March 2019, AT&T increased prices again, raising its cheapest package another $10, up to $50 per month. At the same time, they trimmed down the total number of channels in the base package to about 45 networks.
But they weren’t done. Last month, AT&T announced it would once again be raising prices, with its cheapest offering getting 30% more expensive at $65 a month — the most expensive entry point for any of the live streaming services on the market today.
So, over the course of about 15 months, AT&T TV Now has gotten 85% more expensive while also giving subscribers about 25% fewer channels in its core package.
AT&T’s Troubles Are Much Bigger
While the company continues to bleed its streaming TV customers, AT&T is facing a class-action lawsuit from investors who allege the company has lied in order to hide the failure of its live streaming service, even going as far as creating fake accounts to boost subscriber numbers according to the complaint.
It’s worth pointing out that AT&T’s TV offerings aren’t just limited to live streaming.
The company also has its DirecTV satellite and U-verse TV services. However, those services aren’t faring any better than its streaming offering. In fact, AT&T reported a loss of 1.16 million premium TV customers, so its traditional pay TV services are in a freefall as well.
A More Profitable Customer?
One thing AT&T has focused on is increasing the average revenue it earns per customer. If the company found a way to maintain the 1,145,000 subscribers it had at the end of Q3, it could actually earn more overall at its current price point of $65 a month than it did with the 1,340,000 customers it had at the end of Q2 who were paying less on average.
But in our estimation, that’s wishful thinking. The reality is customers are fleeing in droves, and there’s no reason to expect the bleeding will stop any time soon.
In the meantime, AT&T’s WarnerMedia is preparing to launch its HBO Max streaming service in May 2020, a video-on-demand service that will boast over 10,000 hours of content at launch with the full HBO library, Warner Bros. movies, and original content. The company projects the $15-a-month service will gain 50 million subscribers within 5 years, which could help make up some of the lost revenue from live streaming and traditional pay TV losses.
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