The Dallas company lost 945,000 satellite and fiber-optic TV subscribers during the last three months of 2019, while its online channel bundle AT&T TV Now shed 219,000 customers.
AT&T vaulted to the top of the pay-TV rankings in 2015 when it bought DirecTV, but that business lost about 4 million subscribers over the past year as many turned to more flexible and less expensive entertainment options.
The company ended 2019 with 20.4 million domestic pay-TV subscribers, dropping behind cable giant Comcast Corp. ’s 21.2 million video customers.
AT&T’s core mobile phone business fared better, adding 229,000 postpaid phone subscribers while losing 20,000 prepaid phone customers in the fourth quarter. Postpaid customers billed for service at the end of the month are considered lucrative for carriers because they are less likely to switch providers.
AT&T ended the year with more than 93 million domestic wireless connections, excluding connected devices such as tablets and lines sold through resellers.
The company’s overall fourth-quarter profit hit $2.39 billion, or 33 cents a share, down from $4.86 billion, or 66 cents a share, over the same period a year earlier. Total fourth-quarter revenue fell to $46.82 billion.
Shares of AT&T slipped about 1% in premarket trading. The shares have rallied over the past year as the company has promised to pay down debt levels and streamline its operations.
Write to Drew FitzGerald at [email protected]