What a distinction three months makes. On the finish of 2017, DirecTV Now — the streaming subscription providing from AT&T geared toward staunching the circulation of cord-cutters leaving the corporate’s satellite tv for pc service — had greater than 1 million subscribers and was quickly including new sign-ups. It reached a zenith of 1.86 million on the finish of 2018’s second quarter. That frenzied growth has come to an finish it appears, as the most recent numbers painfully illustrate: Over the course of the fourth quarter of 2018, the service misplaced 267,000 paying clients. Its present subscriber rely sits at round 1.6 million.
Why the sharp decline? AT&T attributes it to the individuals who signed up below the corporate’s promotional worth plan, then determined to go away as soon as that discounted charge ceased. The quarterly report notes that there are not any clients on the discounted promotional provide and that the variety of individuals on its dearer plans has remained steady.
To many, this flip of occasions signifies simply how troublesome it may be to show a revenue within the stay streaming TV panorama, the place customers are roughly free to leap from one service to a different as simply as they will purchase one thing from Amazon. With no contracts and no specialised like set-top packing containers or satellite tv for pc dishes, the barrier to entry (and exit) is extraordinarily low.
But it surely’s not simply the convenience with which clients can change that’s probably driving churn at DirecTV Now. The value of the service and what if provides for that cash is probably going below intense scrutiny by subscribers as they get used to the brand new streaming panorama and begin evaluating DirecTV Now to suppliers like Hulu, SlingTV, YouTube TV, and a number of other different rivals.
DirecTV Now’s costs have risen in current months, and are anticipated to rise once more, whereas AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson mentioned the corporate is trying to “skinny the content material out.” Google’s YouTube TV could find yourself buying a major share of DirecTV Now’s clients. The stay TV service not too long ago introduced that it had expanded its protection space to 98 p.c of U.S. households, simply in time for this yr’s Tremendous Bowl. It additionally introduced that it had added key native broadcasters in a lot of its markets, which has all the time been certainly one of DirecTV Now’s biggest strengths in terms of competing for cord-cutters who is perhaps anxious about dropping native information and climate.
It’s nonetheless too early to say that the fourth quarter losses are an indicator that DirecTV Now can’t compete, however we suspect it has realized an essential lesson concerning the costs individuals are prepared to pay for a satellite tv for pc or cable different.