Tag Archives: streamingmedia

Can ATampT’s New TV Service Stem Its Subscriber Losses?

Can AT&T's New TV Service Stem Its Subscriber Losses?

AT&T TV is now available nationwide — who's subscribing?

Adam Levy

Mar 8, 2020 at 9:29AM


AT&T's (NYSE:T) TV business lost a total of 4.1 million subscribers last year between its three products: DirecTV, U-Verse, and AT&T TV Now. While losses peaked in the third quarter, as management promised, the number of cancellations in the fourth quarter still came in higher than anticipated.

In order to stem those losses, AT&T's going all in on streaming video. Its new video service, AT&T TV, streams linear TV channels over the internet to a custom-built set-top box. AT&T TV also has an app for connected TV devices, tablets, and smartphones. Combined with HBO Max, which launches in a couple of months, streaming will be the "workhorse" that drives AT&T's television business going forward.

The new linear TV service launched this month, but there are still a few question marks about its ability to stem AT&T's subscriber losses.

The AT&T TV set-top-box and remote.
The AT&T TV set-top box and remote. Image source: AT&T.

Reruns on TV

AT&T TV's set-top box is the company's equivalent of Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) X1 platform. Comcast has had a lot of success with X1. The rollout of Comcast's X1 set-top box to the majority of its video subscribers certainly helped it lose fewer subscribers than the rest of the industry for a couple of years.

But Comcast's management expects the tide to turn next year as it focuses more on profitability. Interestingly, that's a key selling point to investors when AT&T's management talks about AT&T TV Now. Since there's no satellite installation or in-home equipment requiring a professional to set up, AT&T's customer acquisition costs for the new service are considerably lower than DirecTV. Additionally, creating a unified back-end for AT&T TV and HBO Max will help reduce spending on technology in the long run, further improving profitability.

AT&T saw its entertainment segments' profit margins improve in 2019, as many video subscribers came off promotional pricing. (That also led to substantial subscriber losses.) By shifting more customers to AT&T TV, management expects to see continued margin expansion in 2020 and 2021.

Focusing on profit margins for the new service may ultimately result in lower uptake than investors are hoping for. Management's primarily focused on the 20 million or so households it passes with its fiber network, which enables gigabit-speed internet. That's only a small portion of households for a product that AT&T is technically capable of delivering anywhere in the country, so subscriber gains could be limited. That said, those will likely be the most profitable households for AT&T.

AT&T TV doesn't fix the biggest pain points of traditional TV

While AT&T TV might be an improvement in user experience from DirecTV and have better channel selection and more options than AT&T TV Now, AT&T isn't solving the biggest pain point of the traditional TV industry. Consumers want fair and transparent pricing; AT&T's pricing for AT&T TV is anything but.

AT&T requires customers to sign up for a two-year contract. In the first year, the video service is priced substantially lower than in the second year, but consumers would have to dig through the fine print to see exactly how much their bill will go up in year two. If consumers want out of the contract, they'll have to pay an early termination fee. And if they want more than one set-top box, they'll have to pay a fee for that. There's also an activation fee.

What's more, regular AT&T TV pricing is about the same price as DirecTV, but subscribers typically receive fewer channels on comparably priced packages. When AT&T took channels out of its AT&T TV bundle and raised prices, it didn't attract too many new subscribers.

Instead of using its lower-cost television platform to reach a broader audience and reduce its pricing, AT&T is heavily focused on profits. That means the product likely won't do a very good job of attracting consumers back to pay-TV, and it might not even be enough to retain existing subscribers. Subscriber losses will continue for AT&T, but profit margins will expand. In the long run, that could end up costing AT&T, however, as a slightly larger profit margin on a significantly smaller customer and revenue base means a smaller bottom line.

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Author Bio
Adam has been writing for The Motley Fool since 2012 covering consumer goods and technology companies. He consumes copious cups of coffee, and he loves alliteration. He spends about as much time thinking about Facebook and Twitter's businesses as he does using their products. For some lighthearted stock commentary and occasional St. Louis Cardinals mania … Follow @admlvy

Original article posted on the Fool.com site, by Adam Levy.

Article re-posted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe

Visit MarketHive to learn more: http://markethive.com/jeffreysloe

Best live TV streaming services for cord-cutters in 2020

Best live TV streaming services for cord-cutters in 2020

Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and others let you ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. Here's how the services stack up.

    Ty Pendlebury   David Katzmaier February 5, 2020 6:00 AM PST


If you want to cut the cable TV cord but still want to keep live TV, the future is in streaming. Live TV streaming services like YouTube TV and Sling TV let you watch most, if not all of your favorite TV channels — from ABC to NBC to ESPN to CNN to Nickelodeon to Fox News — streamed live over the internet. And they probably cost far less than you're paying the cable company for TV.

Prices start at $15 a month with no extra fees or contracts. In place of a cable box and the monthly fee to rent it, you'll use an app on your smart TV, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV or game console. And you can watch at home or on the go via a tablet, phone, other mobile device or even a web browser.

These services have plenty of benefits — no more cable fees, no more contracts, yay! — but the savings can be outweighed by other downsides including internet fees, DVR restrictions, buffering and a lack of things to watch, including live sports. And just like cable TV, the cost of these services just keeps going up. AT&T raised the price of its AT&T TV Now service packages, Hulu with Live TV increased by $10 last December, while Sling raised its price by $5 across the board. The landscape is in constant flux, and this can also mean competition is squeezed out — PlayStation Vue was among our top picks for premium options, but Sony shuttered its streaming service in January.

The entire article, written by an Ty Pendlebury and David Katzmaier, can be read on Cnet.com.

As you can see by the image above, Cnet has rated the streaming services by categories, from best overall to best TV and HBO combo. However, they failed to mention one streaming media service, NuMedia, which includes all of the typical USA channels plus HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, all the major news channels, sports channels (including NLF Network and NLF Red Zone, MLB Network, NBA TV, Golf Channel and a plethora of soccer channels), International channels and ten thousand plus video and demand movies.

NuMedia offers a free trial along with a referral program where you can get your service for free, or earn money by sharing the service with others. Refer NuMedia to five (5) people, who signup for the sevice, and get yours for free, or just pay the low cost of $49.95 (USD) per month to enjoy the TV shows, movies, sports or news that you want to watch.

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Article posted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe

Visit MarketHive to learn more: http://markethive.com/jeffreysloe

Cord Cutting Tops Records in Q1 as Skinny Bundles Get Fatter Price Tags

Cord Cutting Tops Records in Q1 as Skinny Bundles Get Fatter Price Tags

MAY 3, 2019 11:25AM PT

The flight from traditional pay TV subscriptions reached new records in the first three months of this year, and online TV subscription services did little to provide relief for their operators.

Altogether, the industry lost north of 1 million pay TV subscribers in Q1 after shedding 3.2 million subscribers through all of 2018. BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield called these results “the worst multichannel video quarter sub loss quarter in history” in a blog post this week, pointing to it as proof of his forecast of “a notable acceleration in cord-cutting trends throughout 2019.”

The biggest loser among the major pay TV operators in Q1 was AT&T, shedding a whopping 544,000 subscribers across its Uverse and DirecTV services (with another 117,000 DirecTV disconnections not being included in the company’s quarterly results due to accounting changes). Fellow satellite TV operator Dish lost 266,000 traditional pay TV subscribers, in part due to a carriage dispute with HBO. Verizon shed 53,000 TV subscribers.

Cable companies didn’t fare much better in Q1, with Comcast losing 121,000 video subscribers. Charter lost 152,000 video subscribers. Mediacom also shed 53,000 video subscribers, and Altice / Suddenlink lost a combined 10,000.

Those losses are dramatic on their own, but there’s more bad news for the industry in its Q1 numbers: Online skinny bundles, once seen as pay TV’s best chance to bring long-time cord cutters back into the fold, didn’t do much to stop the bleeding.

AT&T’s online TV service DirecTV Now contracted notably during the quarter, with AT&T losing 83,000 streaming subscribers. That’s a very different picture from Q1 of 2018, when AT&T lost 187,000 traditional TV subscribers, while also adding 312,000 DirecTV Now subscribers.

However, much of that growth could be attributed to lower and promotional pricing for DirecTV Now, which the telco has been gradually moving away from. The price for the cheapest DirecTV Now bundle went from $35 to $40 last summer, and the telco phased out virtually all of its promotional pricing, which allowed some wireless subscribers to stream DirecTV Now for as little as $10 per month.

The latter already contributed to significant defections over the holiday quarter. Over the past two quarters, AT&T lost a total of 350,000 DirecTV Now subscribers. It’s likely that the service will see additional cancellations from price-sensitive customers in the coming months: AT&T further increased the price of the cheapest DirecTV Now bundle to $50 per month in April.

Dish’s Sling TV, which has managed to keep prices comparably low, only grew by 7000 subscribers in Q1. There is no word on how well some of the other online TV bundles performed in Q1; Google doesn’t break out subscriber numbers for YouTube TV, and Sony doesn’t report PlayStation Vue numbers.

Hulu announced this week that it had a total of 28 million subscribers across its service tiers, but didn’t say how many of those are signed up to its live TV bundle. Recent Bloomberg estimates put Hulu’s bundle at 2 million subscribers, with YouTube TV reportedly serving 1 million customers.

But even these new entrants may not be immune to defections as the prices for these so-called skinny bundles are getting fatter across the board. Sports-focused fuboTV announced a $10 price hike in March, and Hulu and YouTube TV both raised their prices by $5 over the past couple of months.

These massive pay TV defections are increasingly impacting the media industry at large. Discovery reported a 4% decline in subscribers to its cable networks for Q1, despite the addition to online TV bundles.

BTIG’s Greenfield expects that cord cutting will also “negatively impact broadcast and cable network programmer retrans/affiliate revenues” in the current quarter. And he does’t expect online TV bundles to make up for those losses, despite the fact that programmers get paid more per online subscriber since “churn is dramatically higher” for online bundles.

Greenfield believes that programmers have no one but themselves to blame for skinny bundle defections. “Legacy media’s forced bundling tactics continue to put business models and profits ahead of the consumer which is ALWAYS a long-term losing proposition,” he wrote.

Original article posted on the Variety.com site, by Janko Roettgers.

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Article re-posted on Markethive by Jeffrey Sloe

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