AT&T lost 1.16 million video subscribers in Q4

AT&T posted another substantial round of video subscriber losses for the fourth quarter of 2019, rounding out a year of mass erosion to its satellite TV business.

The company said it lost 945,000 premium video subscribers from its DirecTV and U-verse businesses and another 219,000 subscribers to its AT&T TV Now streaming video service. All together the company posted a net loss of 1.164 million video subscribers during the final quarter of 2019.

AT&T lost a net 3.43 million traditional video subscribers in 2019. The company now has 19.473 million traditional video subscribers, down 15% annually. The company also lost 665,000 AT&T TV Now subscribers in 2019, bringing the total down nearly 42% to 926,000.

Although AT&T’s DirecTV customer exodus is still happening at an alarming rate, the losses did show some signs of improvement over the 1.16 million premium video subscribers lost in the third quarter.

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The continued video subscriber losses negatively impacted quarterly earnings for AT&T’s entertainment group. Video revenues fell 7% to about $8.07 billion and were only partially offset by a 2.7% increase in broadband revenues. Overall, the segment revenues fell 6.1% to $11.23 billion and operating income fell 9.7% to $746 million.

The WarnerMedia business also experienced a downturn during the fourth quarter, which AT&T attributed in part to forgone licensing revenue as the company gets ready to launch its HBO Max streaming service in May. Turner revenues rose 1.6% and HBO revenues rose 1.9% but Warner Bros. revenues fell 8%. Overall the segment’s revenues fell 3.3% to about $8.9 billion and operating income fell 9.5% to approximately $2.45 billion.

AT&T's consolidated revenues for the fourth quarter totaled $46.8 billion, down from $48 billion in the year-ago quarter. Operating income was $5.3 billion versus $6.2 billion, which the company said was partly due to a $1.3 billion write-off of certain copper facilities.