Beachfront - leaderboard - 7-1-18

Analysis for 'DirecTV Now'

  • AT&T Moves Further From vMVPD Model With New Price Hikes

    AT&T is moving further away from the low-cost virtual MVPD (“skinny bundle”) model it helped pioneer with DirecTV Now back when it launched in 2016. Per multiple reports on Friday, AT&T will increase the monthly price of its “Plus” tier by $15 (to $65 per month) and its “Max” tier by $10 (to $80 per month) in November.

    This past summer AT&T rebranded DirecTV Now as AT&T TV Now. DirecTV Now had already imposed a $10 per month price hike back in March and consolidated DirecTV Now’s original 3 tiers into the 2 current tiers and included HBO with both of them. If you were to back out the $15 per month that a standalone HBO Now subscription would cost, then the “Plus” and “Max” tiers would be $50 per month and $70 per month, respectively.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #476: Can AT&T Put Its Video Puzzle Pieces Together?

    I’m pleased to present the 476th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    AT&T had a tough Q2 in video, with a losses of 778K traditional subscribers (DirecTV plus U-verse) and 168K DirecTV Now subscribers. In today’s podcast we discuss AT&T’s road forward from here in video which rests on 3 pillars: traditional DirecTV and AT&T TV and HBO Max, neither of which has launched yet. In the podcast we discuss the  pros and cons of each and what impact they’ll likely have in the market.

    In short, AT&T has lots of strong video assets but it’s not quite clear how the puzzle pieces will be put together to create competitive differentiation. What is certain though is that with loss of nearly a million video subscribers in Q2 and a huge debt load to reduce, there is significant urgency for AT&T to figure it all out.

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  • DirecTV Now Loses Another 168K Subscribers in Q2 ’19

    What a difference a year makes. In July ’18 when AT&T reported its Q2 earnings, its vMVPD DirecTV Now gained another 325K subscribers. It was the fourth consecutive quarter of 300K+ additions and DirecTV Now was setting the pace of growth for the nascent vMVPD industry that in turn was offsetting traditional pay-TV losses.

    Flash forward to this morning’s Q2 ’19 AT&T earnings and the DirecTV Now narrative has changed dramatically. In Q2 ’19, DTV Now lost 168K subscribers, reducing its quarter end total to 1.3 million subscribers. Looking back over the past year, DTV Now peaked with 1.86 million subscribers at the end of Q3 ’18 when it eked out a 49K addition.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #464: Baby Boomers’ OTT Use Climbs; DirecTV Now Loses Subscribers Again

    I’m pleased to present the 464th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week Colin walks us through Nielsen and YouTube data he’s been analyzing that shows how 50-64 year olds are watching OTT video at a pretty significant level. According to his analysis, this group’s viewing could be at least 60% of the level of 18-34 year olds, which have been the main focus of many observers’ attention.

    This adoption ties to our second topic which the Q1 ’19 loss of around 83K subscribers by DirecTV Now. Virtual pay-TV operators have a big opportunity to drive OTT viewing on connected TV devices, and Colin and I surmise these are taking up a bigger share of 50-64 year olds’ viewing which is more focused on long-form entertainment and sports. However the DirecTV Now loss shows that different players are benefiting differently from this shift.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #458: DirecTV Now Changes Packaging; Fact-Checking Netflix

    I’m pleased to present the 458th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Earlier this week, DirecTV Now changed its packaging and pricing by introducing 2 new tiers, DirecTV Now Plus and DirecTV Now Max. They are both anchored by HBO, but also lose popular networks from Viacom, Discovery and AMC.

    On today’s podcast Colin and I discuss the likely rationale behind the changes and what impact they’ll have. One thing seems clear: given the spectrum of TV networks they carry, Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV are poised to become leaders in the virtual pay-TV industry.

    Next, Colin updates us on several statements a Netflix executive made earlier this week that he believes need further clarity. Colin delights in “keeping them honest” and his watchdog role benefits all of us trying to understand industry data.

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  • HBO Returns to Workhorse Role in New DirecTV Now Packages

    AT&T is revamping its programming packages for DirecTV Now, and one thing that is clear is that HBO is returning to its traditional workhorse role in driving consumer appeal for a list of ad-supported TV networks.

    According to Cord Cutters News, AT&T will introduce two new packages, DirecTV Now Plus and DirecTV Now Max for $50/month and $70/month respectively. Subscribers to current packages will be grandfathered in, but will see a $10/month rate increase, so the current entry level Live a Little package will move up to $50/month.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #452: Where Do Virtual Pay-TV Operators Go From Here?

    I’m pleased to present the 452nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week’s news that DirecTV Now lost 267K subscribers in Q4 ’18 (a swing from 368K it added in Q4 ’17) raises critical questions about where the virtual pay-TV industry goes from here? As virtual operators’ discounted promotions trail off, prices rise, programming gets rationalized, competition rises and viewers turn to SVOD and ad-supported OTT options, a far more challenging road lies ahead for growing and retaining subscribers.

    In this week’s podcast, Colin and I dig into these issues and speculate on whether, 2 years from now virtual operators combined are more likely to have 15 million subscribers or 1 million subscribers? In other words, which direction is this industry really going in? AT&T seems determined to play a key role with the collection of assets it has assembled. But timing and execution are critical to its success.

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  • DirecTV Now Loses 267K Subscribers in Q4; First-Ever Loss for Virtual Pay-TV Operator

    Virtual pay-TV operator DirecTV Now lost 267K subscribers in Q4, ’18, per its parent AT&T’s earnings report this morning. DTV Now’s loss contributed to an overall loss of 658K video subscribers (including DirecTV satellite and U-verse) that AT&T sustained in Q4, the biggest in at least 3 years. DTV Now had approximately 1.6 million subscribers at the end of 2018, down from 1.86 million at the end of Q3 '18.

    More noteworthy than the overall AT&T video loss is DTV Now’s strikingly quick reversal of fortune. Just one year ago, in Q4’ 17, DTV Now gained 368K subscribers, meaning its Q4 swing was a whopping 635K. Two years ago, in Q4 ’16, DTV Now gained 267K subscribers. For all of 2018 DTV Now gained just 436K subscribers, compared to the 888K subscribers it added in all of 2017. And to put the 2018 additions in perspective, they were mostly all front-loaded, with DTV Now gaining 654K subscribers combined in Q1 and Q2, then dropping to 49K in Q3 and then the loss of 267K in Q4.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #448: The Top 10 Video Stories of 2018

    I’m pleased to present the 448th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Continuing our tradition for our final podcast of the year, this week Colin and I discuss the top 10 video stories of 2018 - at least in our humble opinions. Once again it has been a very active 12 months, with lots of innovation and change. Colin and I have had a great time analyzing and discussing the critical industry trends each week and we hope you’ve enjoyed listening to our thoughts in 2018.

    Let us know what you think of our choices, whether you agree or disagree!

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #445: Exploring Pay-TV’s Record High Subscriber Losses

    I’m pleased to present the 445th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast Colin and I explore the pay-TV industry’s record high video subscriber losses sustained in Q3 ’18 (more here and here). The two big satellite services, DirecTV and Dish Network were major contributors. But perhaps more important was a dramatic slowdown in subscriber additions for the two biggest virtual pay-TV operators, Sling TV and DirecTV Now.

    As we discuss, with these virtual services in flux and not stanching the bleeding of traditional multichannel TV, the critical underlying trends of cord-cutting and cord-nevering burst onto full display in Q3. Meanwhile, the strategies and success of virtual services like YouTube TV, Hulu Live and others is murky at best. All of this shows how unstable the pay-TV industry as a whole currently is.

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  • Pay-TV’s Q3 Stumble: This is What a World Without Aggressive Skinny Bundles Looks Like

    Pay-TV operators took a drubbing in Q3 ’18 as the boost the industry has gotten from consumers migrating to virtual MVPDs or “skinny bundles” mostly evaporated. According to Leichtman Research Group, the industry as a whole lost about 975K traditional subscribers (its worst ever). Subtracting estimated gains for skinny bundles the Q3 loss would have topped a million.

    Going back just one quarter to Q2 ’18, the industry as a whole (both traditional pay-TV and skinny bundles) may have actually eked out a net subscriber gain, as traditional subscribers “cord-shifted” to skinny bundles. But in Q3 that short trend came to screeching halt, as both DirecTV Now and Sling TV additions slid dramatically. In Q3 ’18 the services combined to add just 75K subscribers, down from 536K a year earlier (and that’s on top of escalating subscriber losses at the core satellite services). It’s not clear how other skinny bundles performed in Q3 as they don’t publicly report their numbers.

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  • Why Google, AT&T and Disney Are Now the Most Important Players in Pay-TV

    For all the talk about cord-cutting over the years, the most important trend in pay-TV these days isn’t consumers dropping out entirely, but rather shifting from traditional multichannel services to lower-priced virtual MVPDs or “skinny bundles.”

    The trend of skinny bundle gains offsetting  multichannel losses continued again in Q2 ’18 where, according to Leichtman Research Group, the top traditional services lost approximately 800K subscribers. But just the 2 publicly-reporting skinny bundles, Sling TV and DirecTV Now, gained 383K (with the latter accounting for 342K).

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  • DirecTV Now Subscribers Hit 1.8 Million

    AT&T’s skinny bundle DirecTV Now hit 1.8 million subscribers at the end of June, per AT&T’s Q2 ’18 earnings report, released yesterday. DirecTV Now added 342K subscribers in Q2 ’18, compared with 152K in Q2 ’18 and 312K in Q1 ’18. DirecTV Now’s gains more than offset the 286K traditional DirecTV subscribers lost in the quarter (almost double the 156K loss from a year ago), with U-verse also adding 24K (vs. a loss of 195K a year ago). Overall, AT&T ended the quarter with 25.449 million video subscribers compared with 25.172 million in Q2 ’17.

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  • Traditional Pay-TV Subscriber Loss in Q1 Slows to 305K

    Traditional pay-TV operators accounting for around 95% of the market lost 305K subscribers in Q1 ’18, compared to 515K in Q1 ’17 according to Leichtman Research Group. The loss is net of 405K Sling TV and DirecTV Now skinny bundle subscribers gained in the quarter by Dish and DirecTV, compared to 265K added in Q1 ’17. Backing out the skinny bundle gains, traditional pay-TV lost 710K subscribers in Q1 ’18 vs. a loss of 710K in Q1 ’17.

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  • Rethinking Skinny Bundles and Their Impact on Pay-TV

    VideoNuze readers know I’ve long been skeptical about the value proposition of virtual multichannel video programming distributors (“vMVPDs”) or “skinny bundles” as they’re commonly known. But as I touched on in last Friday’s podcast, based on some significant changes over the past year, I’m becoming more optimistic about skinny bundles’ prospects and their broader impact on pay-TV.

    To take a step back, 3 main concerns have driven my skepticism about skinny bundles: (1) their incomplete channel lineups (the “Swiss cheese” challenge of too many holes, or missing TV networks) which reduces their appeal relative to pay-TV’s traditional multichannel lineups, (2) the dubious profitability of skinny bundles, especially given underlying programming costs, which raises the question of just how committed the big parent companies of skinny bundles are to them, and (3) viewers’ migration away from linear TV in favor of SVOD, which is driving up cord-cutting.

    Here’s what’s changed:

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  • Research: Exploring Skinny Bundles’ Momentum with TDG’s Michael Greeson

    Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (“vMVPDs”) or “skinny bundles” have become a very hot topic in the video industry. Offering fewer TV networks and at a lower monthly price they’re seen as a way of keeping cord-cutters in the ecosystem while attracting cord-nevers. To learn more about the dynamics of vMVPDs, industry research firm (and long-time VideoNuze partner) The Diffusion Group recently completed a comprehensive study of vMVPD subscribers. I interviewed Michael Greeson, TDG’s president and director of research, to learn more.

    VideoNuze: From a top-line perspective, what are the most important takeaways from your research?

    Michael Greeson: First and foremost, while these services are successfully connecting with cord-cutters, they are entirely missing out with cord-nevers. Cord-cutters account for 54% of total vMVPD subs. The consumers were largely driven from legacy services by high service costs and paying having to pay for channels they don’t watch, and vMVPD services appear to better address these needs.

    Cord-nevers, on the other hand, account for only 9% of vMVPD subs—clear evidence that these offerings are failing to resonate with younger buyers. And for good reason: cord-nevers are largely driven by a genuine lack of interest in multi-channel pay-TV services. They prefer a ‘build it yourself’ service that allows them to select and pay for only the channels they want, versus signing up for a bundle of channels.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #401: Top Video Trends for 2018

    Happy New Year! I’m pleased to present the 401st edition of the VideoNuze podcast, and our first of 2018, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    As is our tradition, we discuss our top trends for the new year. 2017 was extremely busy for the industry and we expect 2018 to be no different. Among our top trends are wireless providers pushing deeper into video, YouTube TV starting to break out among skinny bundles, cord-cutting accelerating and Amazon pursuing many different opportunities to build its video business. We also discuss 4-5 additional trends to watch.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #400: The Top 10 Online Video Stories of 2017

    I'm pleased to present the 400th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    In this week’s podcast Colin and I discuss our top 10 online video stories of 2017. It’s been another incredibly busy year with tons of industry innovation and progress. As always, it has been a lot of fun to analyze all of this and report on it. Let us know what you think of our choices, whether you agree or disagree!

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    Unless there’s some big news, this will be my last post for 2017.

    Happy Holidays to all!

     
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  • VideoNuze Podcast #394: Skinny Bundles Gain As Cord-Cutting Accelerates

    I’m pleased to present the 394th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Pay-TV operators are likely to have lost around a million video subscribers in Q3, while skinny bundles (or virtual MVPDs as Colin likes to call them) may have gained around 900K. In this week’s podcast Colin and I talk about these dynamics and what kinds of consumer behaviors are driving these changes.

    For the skinny bundles, a big part of the growth is AT&T’s deep discounting of DirecTV Now to support its wireless service. Among others, YouTube TV, with its widespread broadcast coverage and major World Series promotion, is also poised to grow strongly.

    But how much of skinny bundles’ gain is coming at pay-TV’s loss is still murky. No doubt some people are swapping, but I question how much they’re actually saving per month, and whether churn will ultimately be high as they realize certain networks aren’t included. Conversely, Colin sees these as “good enough” solutions when combined with SVOD services.

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  • Broadcast TV Poised to Play Bigger Role in Skinny Bundles’ Success

    The competitive dynamics among skinny bundles are still developing, but one thing is becoming increasingly clear: including a full array of broadcast TV channels in all of the biggest U.S. markets, and even many of the smaller ones, will be table stakes. It seems as if a week doesn’t pass these days without one of the five major skinny bundles announcing a new carriage deal for certain broadcast channels in a variety of local markets.

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