Verizon Loses 72,000 Pay TV Subs, Media Revenue Grows for First Time Since Yahoo Deal

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg

The telecom giant, led by CEO Hans Vestberg, says two thirds of its Disney+ promotional subscribers retained the streaming service after their one-year free trials ended.

Telecom giant Verizon on Wednesday reported that it lost 72,000 net pay TV subscribers for its FiOS consumer video service in the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of 51,000 in the year-ago period and a loss of 61,000 in the third quarter.

As it has done in the past, the company cited "the ongoing shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings."

Verizon added 92,000 net customers for the FiOS consumer internet service, compared to 35,000  in the year-ago period. Together with business internet customers, the firm said it added 95,000 net new users in the period, "the most fourth-quarter total FiOS internet net additions since 2014."

The Verizon Media unit, which includes the likes of Yahoo, AOL and HuffPost, posted fourth-quarter revenue of $2.3 billion, up 11.4 percent from the year-ago period. That was "the first quarter of year-over-year growth since the Yahoo acquisition in 2017," the firm said. The gain "was fueled by strong advertising trends with revenue from the demand side platform growing 41 percent year-over-year."

Verizon also took a $119 million charge in the fourth quarter related to the sale of HuffPost to BuzzFeed.

In its wireless business, Verizon reported 357,000 wireless retail postpaid net additions in the fourth quarter, driven by 163,000 phone and 275,000 other connected device net additions, partially offset by 81,000 tablet net losses.

Verizon, led by CEO Hans Vestberg, did not say how many of its users have taken advantage of the telecom giant's deal with the Walt Disney Co. for the Disney Bundle, which is included with select Verizon wireless unlimited plans, making for a $12.99 per month value. The bundle includes Disney streaming services Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. But management on a conference call said that more than two-thirds of its Disney+ promotional subscribers retained the streaming service after the end of their one-year free trials. It didn;t detail though how many of those  upgraded to the triple-play bundle.