2019 is proving to be a tough year for AT&T's DIRECTV NOW with the service continuing to see a drop in the number of subscribers.
Earlier today AT&T released its first-quarter earnings results where it explained DIRECTV NOW saw a loss of 83,000 subscribers during the first three months of the year.
According to AT&T, this now brings the overall total number of DIRECTV NOW subscribers down to 1.5 million.
DIRECTV NOW is only one of the ways in which AT&T offers video services although the bigger picture was not any better. AT&T also confirmed the total number of “premium TV subscribers” overall now stands at 22.4 million.
This represents a loss of 544,000 subscribers during the quarter.
The 83,000 subscriber loss in this quarter is not as bad as the major subscriber loss the service encountered in the previous quarter. Then, AT&T confirmed 267,000 subscribers had left the service.
However, when taking together this puts the number of subscribers down by 350,000 in the last six months. Considering DIRECTV NOW had less than 2 million subscribers to begin with, that six-month decline represents a significant part of the overall user base.
What might be good news for AT&T is that the drop in this quarter could have been much worse.
Following the previous major subscriber drop, AT&T announced an increase in pricing which was accompanied by a decrease in the number of channels on offer. Effectively, reducing the value while charging more for the privilege and leading many subscribers to make clear their intent to switch services.
With the price increase in mind and considering less exited in the last quarter compared to the quarter before, this might be viewed as a “win” by AT&T under the circumstances.
Of course, these quarterly results do not paint the full picture of the effects of the plan changes.
AT&T announced the introduction of the new plans in early-to-mid March which is fairly late in the first quarter. Likewise, the price increase did not officially take effect for existing subscribers until April 12 - the second quarter of the year.
On this basis, it is likely that the current quarterly figures are not realistically showcasing the effects of those price increases and plan changes. A better picture will become available when the company releases its next quarter results in three months time.
Providing the next quarter results do roll out as expected then it seems likely AT&T will once again declare yet another subscriber drop number. This in itself will be noteworthy as it will result in the third quarterly subscriber drop in a row.
This is also at a time when all other indications point to a rise in the move away from traditional linear solutions to services just like DIRECTV NOW. Just not DIRECTV NOW in particular.
What may help to soften the effects of the price increase is DIRECTV NOW was not alone in this respect. YouTube TV also upped its prices recently putting it directly on price par with AT&T’s option.
Both DIRECTV NOW and YouTube TV’s price increases will likely prove most beneficial to Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV - who happen to now be the two current leaders in this market.