AT&T losing the video war

Spring of 2019 is not a great start for AT&T — a US communications giant with vertical integration of media supply chain. The company lost 627,000 video subscribers in Q1; the main loss of 544,000 was from TV subs, while the balance 83,000 loss of subscribers was from OTT video subs (DirecTVNow).

After the Q1 report, AT&T stocks fell close to 7%. The communications giant reassured the market that the loss in legacy will even out into the year and the OTT product will reap benefit during the latter part of the year following new price adjustments.

John Donovan, CEO, AT&T Communications, expects the reduction of promotion and target on non-price-sensitive subscribers will attract ‘high-value’ subscribers to DirecTVNow.

A better understanding of the targeted customers now, he added, would help them to better evaluate the programme line-ups, thereby optimising profitability and stabilising value proposition.

The current three video offerings — traditional linear product (DirectTV/Uverse), virtual MPVD (DirecTVNow), and mobile bundle (AT&T Watch TV) — will be refined to cater to customer needs. A good example is how DirecTVNow is being simplified to differentiate it from other services.

AT&T is revealing its fourth product this autumn: a direct-to-consumer subscription VoD product that will focus on content from HBO and Warner Bros. — a move that is likely to have been motivated by positive reactions from the market with the recent launch of Disney+.

Randall Stephenson, CEO and chairman, AT&T, said: “I was impressed by what Disney did … it gave the market an appreciation that this is a viable direct-to-consumer product that will have good appeal for a broad number of customers, not just in the US but around the world.

“I thought it was very instructive from that standpoint.”

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