AT&T expects to add live sporting events and news to the streaming service coming from its WarnerMedia unit, HBO Max, CEO Randall Stephenson said on an earnings call Wednesday. While the company doesn’t plan to offer live programming when the service launches next spring, the later addition of it could help AT&T better compete with Disney, which plans to bundle its ESPN+ service with its forthcoming Disney+ service.
Meanwhile, AT&T suffered more TV subscriber losses in the second quarter as satellite customers left due to the end of price promotions and subscribers to its DirecTV Now streaming cable service quit over its recent price increase.
In the quarter, AT&T lost 778,000 pay TV subscribers, compared to 544,000 last quarter and lost 168,000 DirecTV Now subscribers, more than double the 83,000 who cancelled last quarter. Earlier this year, AT&T increased the cost of DirecTV Now to $50 per month from $40. AT&T finished the quarter with 21.6 million pay TV subscribers and 1.3 million DirecTV Now subscribers.
AT&T executives had said last quarter they expected the defections to taper off in the second half of this year, but on Wednesday they said they now expect cancellations to level out by next year. Mr. Stephenson said he believes many of these customers will be “perfectly suited” for its HBO Max streaming service, which is set to launch next Spring. On that note, AT&T said it will have an investor day to unveil details of the new service on October 29 in Burbank, Calif.