Despite a major upgrade to its pay TV platform in December, Verizon Communications finished 2018 with 168,000 less Fios TV users than it had when the year started.
The wireless company, now firmly fixated on 5G technology, lost around 46,000 Fios TV users in the fourth quarter alone. This compared to a loss of 29,000 users in Q4 2017, and a loss of 75,000 in all of 2017.
For Verizon — and for the broader pay TV business — the loss marks a turning point for what had been the industry’s fastest-growing platform, peaking at just under 4.7 million users in early 2017. Verizon ended 2018 with around 4.5 million Fios TV customers.
In December, after abandoning plans to launch a new advanced internet-protocol TV platform, Verizon rolled out on a limited basis a new equipment upgrade for its existing pay TV system, which it’s calling Fios TV One.
The upgrade, which Verizon said has been deployed to a limited number of Fios subscribers in upstate New York and New York City; Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pa.; Massachusetts markets; Richmond, Va., and several other markets, includes a voice remote and secondary receivers that are WiFi connected, meaning they don’t have to be placed near coax. Netflix is integrated directly into the user interface. And the platform is 4K/UltraHD-capable.
Speaking during Tuesday’s earnings call, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said the company is at work developing other consumer choices for video.
“We’ll of course, over time, create optionality for our customers to choose between different solutions for their TV viewing," he said. "Ultimately, we will see our customers have all the choices when it comes to how they want to consume video. We see the trends in the market.”
Separately, Verizon confirmed that it took at $4.6 billion write-down on its media group assets, formerly branded Oath and comprised of its multibillion-dollar AOL and Yahoo acquisitions.