AT&T's U-verse TV growth slows to 73K subscribers in Q4

AT&T (NYSE: T) reported the addition of 73,000 U-verse TV subscribers in the fourth quarter, a significant decline from the 194,000 added in the same period of 2013.

In its full year and Q4 earnings call with investors Tuesday, the conglomerate attributed the decline to a "strategic move to improve profitability" by concentrating on subscribers with lower churn rates.

AT&T still reported 2.1 percent revenue growth for its consumer wireline business, with 405,000 U-verse broadband subscribers joining the fold in the fourth quarter.

For a complete look at AT&T's Q4 wireless business, see this FierceWireless report.

Overall, AT&T posted a net loss of $4 billion in Q4 compared to net income of $6.9 billion in the same period a year prior, with revenue exceeding analysts' forecasts at $34.4 billion.

Addressing AT&T's pending purchase of DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said the regulatory process still has a "big unknown," with content providers still challenging the FCC in court over disclosing their licensing deals as part of their reviews. He said he still expects the deal to close in the first half of the year.

Stephenson reiterated AT&T's position that the DirecTV deal would provide the company with the ability to differentiate itself in the wireless business, providing video content to any device.

"Pretty much across the board, we're seeing better opportunities than what we baked into the original deal," he said. "It looks really good to be able to sell video into all of these channels. Our customers are demanding video to be delivered on any device, and one of our primary objectives coming out of the close of this deal is to take advantage of the content relationships DirecTV has."

Stephenson also referenced Otter Media, the OTT programming joint venture launched with the Chernin Group. "It's going to be a multifaceted approach in terms of how we bring video to our customers, but we're looking at multiple channels and channel lineups that we will be able to offer to our customers. Stay tuned, there will be more to come. This is a high priority for us to deliver video to tablets and mobile handsets."

For more:
- read this AT&T earnings release
- see this AT&T earnings presentation

Editor's Corner: Wireless biz should look past Freewheel's limitations and into Dolan's beady eyes

Related links:
AT&T beats expectations, roars back with 854K postpaid net adds
AT&T's David Christopher: 'I don't get up every day and worry' about competitors and their pricing moves
Cablevision's Wi-Fi-only Freewheel service won't have AT&T, Verizon shaking with fear
AT&T to nab Nextel Mexico for $1.88B from bankrupt NII Holdings
AT&T pondering name change for DirecTV post-purchase

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