If you were looking for accelerating growth among the largest U.S. telcoTV providers, you’ll have to look beyond AT&T and Verizon. Both reported slowing growth for telcoTV subscribers in 3Q09 – dramatically so for Verizon FiOS TV.
For the past few quarters, both AT&T and Verizon reported healthy and accelerating video subscriber growth, with Verizon FiOS TV net adds for the past three quarters hovering around 300K. But in3Q09, we see a dramatic slowdown, with only 191K net new FiOS TV adds, a 36% decline from 2Q09.
While not as dramatic, AT&T also saw slower growth in 3Q09 for U-verse TV. They added 239K new U-verse TV subscribers, compared with 248K in 2Q09. AT&T also had a net loss of satellite TV subscribers. They lost 5K DBS subscribers (through a DirecTV resale agreement) in 3Q09, compared to a gain of 5K in 2Q09.
It’s certainly not a reason to panic, but these numbers definitely indicate a slowdown in growth – maybe a temporary one – but a slow down nonetheless. It’s worth noting because AT&T and Verizon should be experiencing hyper growth during this time of their video roll outs, not deceleration. For their sake, they better hope their best growth days are not behind them. By comparison, it took a few years for cable to begin to see decelerating growth for voice customers, not a few quarters.
To be fair, cable’s voice heyday didn’t come in the middle of the Great Recession. We’ll have to watch these video trends closely over the next few quarters before making a firm judgment.