AT&T Executive Touts Mobile Video Consumption, Mum on DirecTV Now Subs

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DirecTV Now was launched at the end of November.

The telecom giant, which has agreed to acquire Time Warner, will “lay out some of the customer metrics” when it reports earnings later this month, says John Donovan.

Telecom giant AT&T continues to see increased mobile video consumption, John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president, AT&T Technology and Operations, told an investor conference Wednesday. But he declined to provide an update on how many subscribers the company has signed up for streaming video service DirecTV Now, which it launched at the end of November.

Appearing at the Citi Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Las Vegas in a session that was webcast, he said the company would “lay out some of the customer metrics” for it when it reports its fourth-quarter earnings Jan. 25. “You’ll be able to judge at that point how successful it is.”

A quick survey of people in the conference session saw 13 percent predicting that DirecTV Now would reach below 500,000 subscribers by the end of 2017, 40 percent forecasting 500,000 to 1 million, 34 percent projecting 1 million to 2 million and 12 percent expecting more than 2 million.

Wall Street is paying close attention to DirecTV Now and its uptake, with analysts debating what it will mean for entertainment companies, Netflix and others.

Touting the growth in video usage via mobile devices, Donovan told the investor conference Wednesday: “A lot of our strategy [has] centered around the belief that a lot of…video viewing would move to handsets and mobile, and I think we are seeing that, not just the growth of DirecTV Now, but just TV Everywhere, the engagement, the number of streams.”

He added: “We are starting to see a really good growth rate in video consumption over mobile across all platforms.”

The topic of AT&T’s $85.4 billion deal for Time Warner, which regulators will review, didn’t come up during the technology-centric conversation.

AT&T on Wednesday also announced that it would test the high-speed 5G wireless delivery technology with DirecTV Now, making it available via 5G in Austin, Texas, by midyear. Donovan told the Citi conference that “we are very optimistic” about the technology.