U-verse TV Adds Subscribers, Challenges Cable Rivals
The company said Wednesday it added 284,000 U-Verse TV subscribers in the January-March period, pushing its total number to 1.3 million. The number of new customers was 20,000 more than the new additions in the fourth quarter of 2008.
AT&T CFO Rick Lindner said there is evidence U-verse is prompting customers to turn to AT&T for a bundle of TV, broadband and phone service -- what cable has marketed as a triple play.
"It is coming into its own as an integrated platform," he said on a conference call to discuss 1Q results, adding: "We're seeing the kinds of benefits that we hoped to see ... not just sales of video, but bringing both broadband and voice with it."
The U-verse brand's TV offering is the most closely watched by investors, since it marks new turf for AT&T and brings the most significant threat to the cable business. But broadband and phone service also carry a U-verse moniker, traveling over the same internet protocol (IP) wires.
Lindner said among U-verse TV customers, 90% are also taking the broadband service, and 60% are subscribing to the phone offering. He said phone service is up and running in 86% of the markets where TV is available, including in parts of Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas.
"The potential of U-verse is not just in video but in a set of integrated, interactive services made possible by an all IP platform," Lindner said.
Where the TV service has been marketed for 18 months, it has a 15% penetration rate, the percentage of customers who could subscribe that do so, the executive said.
AT&T also said Wednesday it added 1.6 million iPhone 3G activations in 1Q, 40% from new customers. Overall in 1Q, AT&T saw revenue drop .6% to $30.57 billion, with net income down nearly 10% to $3.13 billion.
U-verse now has as many TV customers as a top-10 cable provider. Verizon's telco TV service, FiOS, had 1.9 million customers as of Dec. 31.