AT&T's Pay-TV Subscriber Base, Including DirecTV, Plummets In Q1
AT&T's pay-TV subscriber base "continued to erode" during Q1, as the company reported a "net loss of 544,000 so-called premium TV customers, a category that includes DirecTV satellite subscriptions and U-verse fiber-optic packages," according to FitzGerald & Chin of the WALL STREET JOURNAL (4/24). DEADLINE's Dade Hayes noted AT&T Chair & CEO Randall Stephenson during yesterday's earnings call said that AT&T "remains 'heavily invested in the NFL'" and that exclusivity for the Sunday Ticket package "should remain as we go forward on DirecTV." DEADLINE.com's Dade Hayes noted that statement came after NFL Network and NFL RedZone were dropped "from the company's U-verse cable service and DirecTV Now streaming package." The decision came as the rights to Sunday Ticket are "coming up for renewal at the end of this season." Stephenson also said that customer data shows DirecTV "far outperforms U-verse as a vehicle to satisfy football fans." Stephenson said that while NFL Network being "blacked out will deprive some customers," U-verse will "continue to offer the league via a range of other broadcast and cable outlets." Stephenson said it is "all stuff we carry," so it "didn't really make sense to carry it" outside of DirecTV. He said, "We'll give our customers access to the NFL through other media. If they really are an NFL-centric customer, we'll move them to DirecTV" (DEADLINE.com, 4/24).
NOT ALL IS LOST: Stephenson noted that there are some "costs attached" to NFL Network and added that many of the games on the net, as well as NFL Draft coverage, are "available on other networks." Neither U-verse nor DirecTV Now are "permitted under the NFL pact to offer Sunday Ticket." DirecTV's current deal for Sunday Ticket "extends through" the '19 season, and NFL Network "remains on DirecTV's satellite service" (VARIETY.com, 4/24).