AT&T said it lost a cumulative 1.16 million pay TV subscribers in Q4 -- 945,000 at its DirecTV and U-Verse subsidiaries alone -- but financial results were ahead of expectations as it readies for the launch of its HBO Max streaming service.
Most analysts expected AT&T to lose about 900,000 video customers in the period, a target the company missed handily, but still fewer than the 1.4 million it lost in Q3. AT&T said it ended the year with 20.4 million total video connections, 4.1 million fewer than the 24.5 million customers it had at the end of 2018.
AT&T expects to launch its HBO Max streaming service in May, and the company said it has forgone some content licensing revenue in anticipation of that debut. In that light, revenue at its Entertainment declined 6.1% to $11.2 billion (but ahead of analysts’ expectations), while cash flow was $2.04 billion, down about 3.1% compared to the prior year.
At WarnerMedia, revenue declined 3.3% to $8.9 billion. Turner networks revenue was up 1.6% to $3.3 billion, reflecting higher affiliate fee rates, offset by a decline in ad revenue and overall lower domestic audience delivery. HBO revenue increased 1.9% to $1.7 billion.