The AT&T TV company had a huge hit last quarter and lost nearly 1.4 million subscribers – an increase of about 1 million compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Both sides of AT & T & # 39; s TV company were to blame: AT&T TV Now, the company's streaming service, has lost subscribers since the end of 2018, while AT & T & # 39; s traditional TV services have already seen big losses. grow by more than 3x year on year.
Traditional TV companies are struggling throughout the industry, so AT&T is not the only one that can cope with the growing losses of subscribers. But the company is in a bad place with its so-called replacement option – AT&T TV Now – which is shrinking after just a few years. The service, originally called DirecTV Now, peaked at around 1.9 million subscribers in the third quarter of last year, but since then the net loss has been in the tens or hundreds of thousands in the four quarters. Since its launch, it has suffered from customer complaints and bad reviews.
A major activist investor, Elliott Management, bought a stake in AT&T last quarter and sent a damning letter criticizing in particular AT&T's recent efforts in TV and entertainment. The company said the acquisition of DirecTV by AT&T was poorly timed, reaching the "absolute peak of the linear TV market." It also said that after almost two years of ownership, AT&T "had to make another clear strategic reason" for purchasing Time Warner, including HBO, Warner Bros. and CNN.
In today's income release, AT&T makes a number of projections and announcements that try to appease Elliott and improve her outlook. First, it says that current CEO and chairman of AT&T, Randall Stephenson, will continue to work until 2020, but that succession planning will begin and that the roles of the CEO and chairman will be divided to part of take away the power of the function.
AT&T has also issued a three-year outlook, including paying off all the debts it has incurred to buy Time Warner, making no major acquisitions, selling unimportant assets, adding two new directors to the board and simply making more money in general , that is what Elliott wanted in the end. Exactly how AT&T will earn that money is not really clear outside the company to say the numbers will get better. (There is talk of "synergies" with WarnerMedia and "organic growth opportunities.")
After initially giving a cool reply to Elliott's letter, Stephenson now says that he and Elliott's team are constructive and helpful & # 39; finds. Elliott issued a new letter this morning in support of the announced changes to AT&T, and said the steps make it a faster-growing, more profitable, focused, and more shareholder-friendly company. "