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Verizon lost 78,000 net pay TV subscribers for its Fios consumer video service in the first quarter, compared with a loss of 69,000 in the fourth quarter and a loss of 82,000 in the year-ago period, the telecom giant said on Friday.
The company has in the past often cited “the ongoing shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings,” amid the growth of streaming services, as a key driver of video subscriber declines.
Verizon, led by chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg, recorded 229,000 total broadband net additions, “the best quarter in over a decade, including 194,000 fixed wireless net additions” and 35,000 wireline broadband net additions. The results included 55,000 Fios Internet net additions at Verizon Consumer. They were “driven by record-low churn levels with gross additions lower compared to first-quarter 2021” when the company had added 98,000 users. For the full year 2021, Verizon had reported 360,000 broadband user net additions, “the best annual performance since 2014.”
The telecom giant has been 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+.
Verizon also reported that it lost 36,000 monthly phone subscribers in the first quarter, fewer than Wall Street analysts had forecast on average, possibly thanks to investing in the expansion of 5G services. The telecom giant said this was “the best first-quarter performance since 2018.”
The company sold its Verizon Media unit, which includes the likes of Yahoo and AOL, last year. Friday’s quarterly earnings report was the second since the deal not to include any of the business’ results.
Verizon’s first-quarter revenue rose 2 percent to $33.6 billion, but its earnings fell 12 percent to $4.7 billion.
“Our operational performance in the first quarter further positions Verizon for long-term growth and increases our competitive standing in mobility, nationwide broadband, the value market and above-the-network business solutions and applications,” Vestberg said.
Verizon on Friday also said though that its full-year earnings were likely to come in closer to the low end of its forecast range due to network upgrade spending and rising inflation possibly keeping consumers from spending money on more expensive plans.
On Friday’s earnings conference call, Vestberg touted an announcement earlier in the week that HBO Max would be part of Verizon’s +Play streaming aggregation platform, which is set to launch later in the year. Other streaming partners for the service include the likes of Netflix, A+E Networks and TelevisaUnivision’s Vix+. In addition, the platform will allow users to buy and manage accounts for streamers that Verizon already offers to eligible customers for certain periods of time, namely Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Discovery+ and AMC+.
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