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AT&T Aims to Convert Fleeing Pay-TV Users to Streaming Services Within the Company

Stephanie Sengwe

It’s no secret that AT&T has been purging pay-TV customers by the quarter. Last quarter alone, the company reported a net loss of 886,000 premium TV subscribers (including AT&T TV), leaving them with 17.7 million premium TV subscribers. The company also lost an additional 68,000 AT&TV NOW subscribers leaving them with just 720,000 (after a peak 1.85 million subscribers in September 2018).

During Goldman Sachs Investor Conference this morning, AT&T CEO John Stankey admitted that their pay-TV business is on a downward trajectory, but that does not necessarily mean all is lost.

“Pay-TV is an important product for us. We’ve managed more mature and legacy products very effectively over the history of our business and that customer franchise still has value to us. We want to manage it carefully, we want to be thoughtful about that,” he explained.

“Where the momentum is, is in getting into a broader distribution product that can touch more households, have more relationships and frankly, give us more insights into how the customers behave on any given day. We think an SVOD/AVOD offer is a far more attractive place to be over the long haul than…pay-TV. It’s clearly seen its peak and is working towards the backside of the growth curve.”

However, instead of trying to pick up the pieces of their pay-TV base, it seems AT&T is looking into ways to keep those customers within the company, by having them convert to other services instead.

“We’ll be diligent in managing the mature product,” Stankey said. “We’ll try to drive as many of those customers to software ways of doing business with us and give them a natural glide path to some of our entertainment-based products.”