Q3-16: DIRECTV mitigates AT&T U-Verse TV subscriber numbers fall

BENGALURU: AT&T acquired DIRECTV added 323,000 net subscribers and hence helped mitigate the company’s Entertainment and Internet Services Group (Entertainment) segment’s loss of 326,000 U-Verse subscribers for the quarter ended 30 September 2016 (Q3-16, current quarter). About 70 percent of DIRECTV net additions were consumers transitioning from U-Verse says the company. The Entertainment Group ended the quarter with 25.3 million (2.53 crore) video subscribers. Further, the company says it has added 156,000 broadband subscribers during the current quarter.

However, the total number of video connections of the Entertainment Group were slightly lower than the 25.4 million connections in Q3-16. At September 30, 2016, Entertainment had approximately 51.0 million revenue connections, compared to 52.6 million at September 30, 2015,

Total revenues of the segment were $12.7 billion ($1,270 crore), up 17.1 percent versus the year-earlier quarter mostly due to the acquisition of DIRECTV. Also contributing to the gain was continued growth in consumer IP services informs the company. Video and Ad sales constitute about 70 percent of the Entertainment Group’s revenue, IP Voice/Data about 19 percent legacy and other revenues the balance 11 percent.  Broadband revenues were up 5 percent in the quarter with IP broadband growing by 12 percent. AdWorks has grown to a $1.5 billion ($150 crore) annualized revenue stream with double-digit revenue growth year to date and strong margins.

Consolidated Numbers

AT&T’s consolidated revenues for the third quarter totaled $40.9 billion ($4,900 crore) , up 4.6 per cent versus the year-earlier period due to the July 24, 2015 acquisition of DIRECTV. Excluding the impact of the DIRECTV acquisition and foreign exchange, revenues were essentially flat, as growth in video and IP-based services mostly offset pressures from declines in wireless and legacy services. Compared with results for the third quarter of 2015, operating expenses were $34.5 billion ($3,450 crore) versus $33.2 billion ($3,320 crore); operating income was $6.4 billion ($s 640 crore) versus $5.9 billion ($590 crore) ; and operating income margin was 15.7 percent versus 15.2 percent. When adjusting for $0.14 of amortization, $0.03 in merger- and integration-related costs and $0.03 of employee-separation costs, operating income was $8.3 billion ($830 crore) versus $7.9 billion ($790 crore); and operating income margin was 20.3 percent, consistent with the year-ago quarter.

Third-quarter net income attributable to AT&T totalled $3.3 billion ($330 crore) or $0.54 per diluted share, compared to $3.0 billion ($300 crore), or $0.50 per diluted share, in the year ago quarter. Adjusting for $0.20 of amortization, merger- and integration related costs and other expenses, earnings per diluted share was $0.74 compared to an adjusted $0.74 in the year-ago quarter.

Time-Warner takeover

As mentioned earlier, AT&T plans to take over Time Warner in a blockbuster $85.4 billion ($8,540 crore) that will completely change the media landscape, A Senate subcommittee responsible for competition will hold a hearing in November 2016. Media reports say that the announcement of the deal has raised concerns in the US, ‘with lawmakers, analysts and advocacy groups closely watching to see if the union, or any that follow in its wake, poses harm to consumers’ says a New York Times report.

According to a BBC report, a spokesman for the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said there were "a number of questions and concerns" about the deal that regulators needed to scrutinise, but added "there's still a lot of information that needs to come out before any conclusions should be reached".

The BBC report further alleges that Republican candidate Donald Trump has said that he would block the merger if he wins, because it was "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

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