Telecom giant Verizon on Wednesday reported that it lost 82,000 net pay TV subscribers for its FiOS consumer video service in the first quarter, compared with a loss of 84,000 in the year-ago period and a loss of 72,000 in the fourth quarter.
As it has done in the past, the company cited “the ongoing shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings.”
Verizon, led by CEO Hans Vestberg and driving hard into the 5G era, offset the pay TV losses with broadband internet subscriber growth as it added 98,000 net customers for the FiOS consumer internet service, compared to 59,000 in the year-ago period. Together with business internet customers, the firm said it added 102,000 net new users in the latest period, its best first-quarter performance in six years.
“You have an internet base of customers for FIOS that’s more than 5 percent higher than last year,” Verizon CFO Matthew Ellis argued during a morning analyst call.
The telecom giant is also shifting its video focus away from FiOS TV to partnerships with third-party streaming services as it positions itself as a key distribution platform for them. For example, Verizon has a deal with The Walt Disney Co. for the Disney bundle, which gives customers with select Verizon wireless unlimited plans access to Disney streaming services Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.
The Verizon Media unit, which includes the likes of Yahoo and AOL, posted first-quarter revenue of $1.9 billion, up 10.4 percent from the year-ago $1.7 billion, on strong advertising trends. That continued double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2020, where the division posted “the first quarter of year-over-year growth since the Yahoo acquisition in 2017.”
Verizon also took a $119 million charge in the fourth quarter related to the sale of HuffPost to BuzzFeed.