AT&T Loses Close to a Million TV Customers, But Touts Its HBO-based Streaming Service

This story is developing and will be updated.AT&T lost nearly a million TV customers in the past three months, but company leaders emphasized Wednesday that they'll grow the entertainment audience again by launching a new streaming service and an internet-based satellite dish replacement.The Dallas-based company saw a 946,000 decline of total TV customers in the second quarter, including a 168,000 drop in subscribers to AT&T's streaming service, DirecTV Now. It has more than 2.5 million fewer TV customers than it had a year ago, after four consecutive quarters of losses.The sharp declines have ratcheted up pressure on AT&T to prove it can turn its deep library of TV shows and movies into a winning, long-term business strategy. With the acquisition of Time Warner (now called WarnerMedia), the Dallas-based company became owner of HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner Broadcasting. The company is betting it can attract customers with HBO Max, a streaming service that will showcase HBO and Warner Bros. content. HBO Max will launch in the spring, but have a limited release later this year.AT&T has not announced the price of the monthly subscription-based service, but analysts anticipate it will cost more than $15. That’s the price of HBO Now, the premium network’s standalone streaming service. It will compete with Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and several other new streaming services. Disney plans to launch its streaming service, Disney+, in November for $7 a month. Apple and NBCUniversal also plan to launch their own services. On Wednesday, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson and chief financial officer John Stephens spoke about another product they're banking on: AT&T TV. Instead of using a satellite dish like with AT&T's DirecTV, customers will get a device in the mail that they plug into their TV. The company will test the new, internet-based product later this summer.Stephenson said AT&T TV "will be the workhorse over the next couple of years." He said the company will be able to lower TV prices for customers, since it won't have the costs of sending a truck and a worker to install a satellite dish. That lower price will help AT&T "shore up this customer base," he said.AT&T's revenue increased by 15.3 percent to $44.96 billion in the second quarter, driven by growth from the Time Warner acquisition. Its revenue beat the estimate of $44.85 billion from analysts surveyed by financial markets data company, Refinitiv. AT&T earned 89 cents per share, excluding merger-related costs. That was in line with analysts' estimatesIts net income fell to $3.71 billion, or 51 cents per share, from $5.13 billion, or 81 cents per share, a year earlier.   Continue reading...

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