AT&T eats a $15.5 billion impairment cost as DirecTV debacle continues

A man with an umbrella walking past a building with an AT&T logo.
Enlarge / A person walks with an umbrella outdoors of AT&T company headquarters on March 13, 2020, in Dallas, Texas.

AT&T misplaced 617,000 prospects from DirecTV and its different TV companies within the closing quarter of 2020, capping a yr wherein it misplaced practically 3 million prospects within the class, AT&T reported today.

AT&T as we speak additionally informed the Securities and Exchange Commission that it has taken “noncash impairment prices of $15.5 billion” associated to its ongoing DirecTV debacle. AT&T mentioned the $15.5 billion prices mirror “adjustments in our administration technique and our analysis of the home video enterprise… together with our determination to function our video enterprise individually from our broadband and legacy¬†telephony operations.” This operational determination “required us to establish a separate Video reporting unit and to evaluate each the recoverability of its long-lived belongings and any assigned goodwill for impairment,” AT&T mentioned.

AT&T mentioned it additionally logged “prices of roughly $780 million from the impairment of manufacturing and different content material stock at WarnerMedia, with $520 million ensuing from the continued shutdown of theaters through the pandemic and the hybrid distribution mannequin for our 2021 movie slate.”

The costs have been added to AT&T’s This autumn bills. Consequently, AT&T reported a $13.9 billion internet loss within the quarter, in comparison with a internet revenue of $2.4 billion a yr in the past. This autumn income was $45.7 billion, down from $46.8 billion yr over yr. The This autumn internet loss swung AT&T to a full-year internet lack of $5.4 billion.

“Executives referred to as the non-cash accounting cost an indication of the pay-TV unit’s growing older standing because the Dallas firm promotes an Web-streaming mannequin that offers its content-production enterprise a direct line to viewers,” The Wall Avenue Journal wrote today.

“Our greatest and single most necessary wager is HBO Max,” AT&T CEO John Stankey mentioned.

Premium TV prospects flee in droves

AT&T is down to 16.5 million customers within the Premium TV class that features DirecTV satellite tv for pc, U-verse wireline video, and the newer AT&T TV on-line service. That is down from 17.1 million three months earlier and down from 19.5 million for the reason that starting of 2020.

AT&T has strung collectively a number of years of huge TV-customer losses since early 2017, when it had over 25 million customers within the class. The lack of practically 3 million prospects in 2020 was an enchancment over 2019, when AT&T misplaced 3.4 million Premium TV prospects within the calendar yr.

These numbers don’t embrace the streaming service previously often called DirecTV Now, which AT&T just killed off this month. The service dropped from 1.86 million subscribers in Q3 2018 to 656,000 by year-end 2020. Present prospects can maintain that service, however AT&T is not providing it to new customers.

DirecTV and U-verse prospects have been pushed away by years of value will increase and AT&T’s decreased use of promotional provides. That is mirrored in AT&T’s common income per consumer (ARPU) within the Premium TV class, which jumped from $121.76 per thirty days at year-end 2018 to $131 at year-end 2019 and $137.64 on the finish of 2020.

AT&T attributed the 617,000-customer loss in This autumn to “competitors, decrease gross provides from the continued give attention to including increased worth prospects and a programming dispute, partially offset by decrease churn.”

Video income down 11.2 p.c

AT&T reported video income of $7.2 billion in This autumn 2020, “down 11.2 p.c yr over yr as a result of declines in premium and [online] subscribers, partially offset by increased premium TV ARPU and better promoting revenues through the basic election.” Working bills within the class have been $7.1 billion, leaving AT&T with a revenue of $98 million.

AT&T does not report particular person numbers for DirecTV, U-verse TV, and AT&T TV. However the firm mentioned beneficial properties in AT&T TV streaming subscribers final quarter helped offset losses in DirecTV and U-verse, which means that DirecTV and U-verse collectively misplaced greater than the 617,000 net-customer loss within the Premium TV class.

AT&T mentioned it’s inspired by the progress of HBO Max, which prices $15 a month by itself however can also be included in varied bundles. “The discharge of Marvel Lady 1984 helped drive our home HBO Max and HBO subscribers to greater than 41 million, a full two years quicker than our preliminary forecast,” Stankey mentioned.

Promoting DirecTV at a loss

AT&T purchased DirecTV for $49 billion in 2015 however has been attempting to promote the beleaguered satellite tv for pc division for the previous few months. AT&T is reportedly close to a deal to promote a stake in DirecTV to TPG, a private-equity agency, however AT&T might keep majority possession of the corporate. Bids for DirecTV have reportedly valued the subsidiary at about $15 billion.

Fiber beneficial properties, DSL losses

AT&T’s broadband-subscriber base remained regular at 14.1 million within the quarter. The corporate boosted fiber-to-the-premises subscribers from 4.68 million to 4.95 million in This autumn 2020, nevertheless it dropped from 8.98 million to eight.74 million in fiber-to-the-node and from 440,000 to 407,000 in its outdated DSL service. AT&T stopped accepting new DSL customers in October 2020.

AT&T mentioned its This autumn broadband income was “$3.1 billion, down 1.4 p.c yr over yr as a result of declines in legacy providers partially offset by increased IP broadband ARPU ensuing from a rise in high-speed fiber prospects and pricing actions.” Working bills have been $2.8 billion.

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