Not long ago the discussion was geared toward how soon AT&T’s DirecTV Now would catch up to Dish Network’s Sling TV. But after a disastrous fourth quarter, Hulu with Live TV has jumped into the upper echelons of streaming TV services.
According to TDG Research, Hulu with Live TV has now caught up with DirecTV Now, which ended the fourth quarter of 2018 with 1.59 million subscribers.
DirecTV Now arrived at that latest subscriber total after losing 267,000 subscribers last quarter. AT&T said the net loss was due to DirecTV Now clearing out approximately 500,000 subscribers who were still on promotional pricing. The company said it no longer has any DirecTV Now subscribers on promotional pricing.
Hulu – which is owned by AT&T, Comcast, Disney and Fox – hasn’t publicly broken out how many of its subscribers opt to add on its live TV service. But the company did say it added 8 million subscribers in 2018, bringing its total to more than 25 million subscribers.
Dish’s Sling TV still has the highest number of subscribers among vMVPDs. The service ended 2018 with 2.42 million subscribers after adding 47,000 during the fourth quarter.
Besides DirecTV Now, Hulu and Sling TV, the vMVPD market is led by YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, fuboTV and Philo. Based on TDG’s estimates, vMVPDs besides DirecTV Now, Hulu and Sling TV, have amassed approximately 2.3 million subscribers combined.
PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV haven’t offered up subscriber totals for their services – reports have pegged PlayStation Vue at around 500,000 and YouTube TV at around 800,000 – competitor fuboTV has shown its cards. In October 2018, fuboTV said that it was approaching 250,000 total subscribers.
As TDG’s Michael Greeson is careful to illustrate in a chart plotting vMVPD subscriber growth since 2016, early movers like Sling TV and DirecTV Now have peaked and, in the case of DirecTV Now, regressed somewhat. In the meantime, Hulu with Live TV and other streaming TV services have been rapidly growing since early 2017.