In November 2018, AT&T held their annual analyst’s days to discuss upcoming strategies for 2019. During that talk, AT&T warned analysts that DIRECTV NOW will likely lose subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2018 and into 2019. Yet they still expect increased profitability in streaming video thanks to recent DIRECTV NOW price hikes and lower content costs.
This week AT&T will report these numbers giving us our first look at subscribers since AT&T announced that they expect subscribers to drop. This call will happen on Wednesday, January 30, 2019.
DIRECTV NOW has already seen a significant decline in new subscribers in the third quarter of 2018 with just 49,000 new subscribers. That is a huge drop compared to the same period in 2017 when DIRECTV NOW gained 342,000 subscribers.
AT&T also said the higher profitability will come from adjustments to promotions likely meaning the end of many popular offers like the three months for $10 and an Apple TV if you prepay for three or four months. AT&T has also ended their $15 credit for DIRECTV NOW if you are an Unlimited Wireless Customer. Current customers can still get the bundle, but new customers will not be able to add the deal. (So, don’t expect these deals to return anytime soon.)
AT&T is already considering a second price hike according to AT&T’s Chief Executive Randall Stephenson who, when asked about DIRECTV NOW’s price, said that “for the long haul probably still too low.” The good news is that it is also being reported that DIRECTV NOW is looking into smaller cheaper DIRECTV NOW bundles. This could be to offset the costs of a possible second price hike.
The last possible reason for AT&T to expect a decline in DIRECTV NOW subscribers is a new streaming version of DIRECTV. They may be hoping a streaming-only version of DIRECTV will keep customers from cutting the cord.
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