AT&T's DIRECTV NOW service has reportedly hit a snag with its user growth. The service saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 subscribers leave back in February, while March brought no new subscribers at all. DIRECT NOW has seen peak user numbers around 328,000 in the past, but demand seems to have dropped off a bit. The two flat months weren't preceded by very much except for the initial burst of subscriber growth that normally comes at a service's launch. This dropoff comes after a fairly successful launch with a huge influx of subscribers, reportedly hitting 200,000 new customers for December alone, on the heels of the service's launch in November. January reportedly saw modest growth for DIRECTV NOW.
According to Bill Hogg, AT&T's president of technology, the quick and massive growth caught Big Blue off guard, showing it a number of technical issues with the service, but not giving it ample time to fix those problems. AT&T's answer to that may have something to do with the sudden sharp downturn in subscriber growth; they pulled back heavily on advertising for the service. Essentially, AT&T wanted to slow user growth so that they could get a handle on the problems at hand before having to face down new ones or bigger waves of angry customers who had replaced traditional cable with DIRECTV NOW. If this is true, then once normal marketing resumes, subscriber growth might do the same.
Even given that fact, it's still entirely reasonable to think that DIRECTV NOW's stagnant user growth is a sign of how much demand, or lack of demand, there is for a service meant to directly replace cable. Live and primetime shows and the services that deliver them are slowly being more and more overlapped by newer options like live video and cheaper streaming services as time goes on. Traditional cable providers reportedly lost somewhere around 732,000 total customers in the first quarter of this year so far, while online TV services like DIRECTV NOW have seen about 477,000 new subscribers during the same period. The missing 200,000 plus customers in those figure are a fairly good indication that online TV services simply aren't what all cord cutters are looking for.