AT&T loses 617K DirecTV subs in Q4 as AT&T TV gains help offset

AT&T
HBO Max now counts 41 million domestic subscribers and nearly 61 million worldwide. (AT&T)

AT&T lost another 617,000 net premium TV subscribers in the fourth quarter but said that AT&T TV is helping to offset losses from its DirecTV business.

The total net losses in premium TV were significantly lower than the 946,000 reported in the year-ago quarter. AT&T ended 2020 with approximately 16.5 million premium TV subscribers, down 15.3% year over year.

AT&T TV Now – which has stopped accepting new subscribers – lost another 27,000 customers in the fourth quarter and dropped its total down to 656,000 (a 29.2% change year over year).

AT&T lost a combined 644,000 video subscribers during the quarter, slightly higher than the 627,000 net losses reported in the third quarter.

RELATED: AT&T scales back Q3 video sub losses to 627,000

Total operating revenue for AT&T’s video business fell 11.2% to about $7.17 billion but the segment’s operating expenses fell by 12.1%, resulting in operating margin jumping to 1.4% from 0.5% one year ago.

AT&T’s linear video business continued its downward trend but HBO Max – powered by a Christmas Day streaming release for “Wonder Woman 1984” and the company’s plan to release every 2021 Warner Bros. movie directly to the streaming platform – made significant gains in the fourth quarter.

The company said HBO Max now counts 41 million domestic subscribers and nearly 61 million worldwide, up sequentially from 38 million and 57 million, respectively. AT&T also said that HBO Max activations doubled since end of the third quarter and reached 17.2 million by the end of the fourth quarter.

AT&T CEO John Stankey credited “Wonder Woman” with helping HBO and HBO Max reach the 41 million domestic subscriber mark two years faster than the company had originally forecast.

WarnerMedia's total operating revenue fell 9.5% driven largely by a sharp drop off at Warner Bros. but HBO managed to grow its revenue by 11.7% during the quarter.