AT&T lost a staggering 1.4 million pay TV customers in the third quarter as the company’s poorly performing DirecTV unit weighed down its financial results and the cord-cutting trend continued to ravage the industry.
The Dallas-based AT&T reported Monday that it shed 1,358,000 pay TV subscribers during the quarter — a dramatic loss that the company blamed on a host of issues including higher prices, competition, and consumers “rolling off promotional discounts.”
DirecTV accounted for the bulk of its 1.2 million its premium TV subscriber losses, which also includes U-Verse TV customers. The premium satellite service DirecTV is rumored to be a prime candidate for a sell-off as its subscriber base continues to erode.
AT&T also reported a loss of 195,000 AT&T TV Now streaming customers.
The results were worse than the company had forecasted. AT&T was expecting to lose more than 1 million TV subscribers in the third quarter amid increased competition from digital streaming services.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told Wall Street analysts on Monday that there are “no sacred cows” when it comes to the company’s portfolio of businesses. He revealed a three-year plan that includes selling up to $10 billion worth of businesses next year.
The proceeds are expected to be used to pay off debt from AT&T’s historic acquisition of Time Warner last year, which brought such media properties as CNN, Warner Bros. and HBO into its corporate fold.
Stephenson’s comments come as AT&T is fending off aggressive rhetoric from activist investor Elliott Management, which has pressured the company to halt its acquisitions and add board members. AT&T said Monday that it will add two board members.
The company is betting heavily on HBO Max, the digital entertainment streaming service that is expected to launch next year. The service will compete with Netflix as well as a host of new streaming services like the upcoming Disney+ and Apple TV+.
Cord-cutting continues to ramp up as American consumers grow increasingly wary of costly cable and satellite bundles.
The Leichtman Research Group said in a recently published study that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S., which represent about 93 percent of the market, lost about 1.5 million net video subscribers in the second quarter, compared to a net loss of about 420,000 subscribers in the same period last year.
Breitbart previously reported that last year, the number of households who cut their cable or satellite television packages doubled to nearly three million, from 1.5 million cancellations in 2017.