Verizon Lost 222,000 Fios TV Subs in 2019

Verizon Communications Jan. 30 disclosed it lost 222,000 Fios TV subscribers in the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2019. The telecom lost 51,000 subs in the fourth quarter to end the year with more than 4.2 million pay-TV subs, compared with more than 4.4 million subs at the end of 2018.

Following a trend among linear TV operators also providing high-speed Internet, Verizon reported 35,000 Fios Internet net additions in the quarter, reflecting the ongoing shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings.

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Verizon ended 2019 with more than 6.2 million broadband subscribers, an increase of 161,000 subs from the end of 2018.

Fios revenue remained relatively flat, primarily due to the demand for broadband offerings, offset by the impact of video subscriber losses.

Meanwhile, the telecom continues to push its legacy mobile phone business and next-generation 5G network functionality, including the launch and build-out of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network.

The company reported 852,000 wireless retail postpaid net additions in the quarter, which included 588,000 phone net additions, up 12.6% year over year, and 305,000 related connected device net additions, primarily wearables, partially offset by tablet net losses of 41,000. Postpaid smartphone net additions were 723,000.

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“Our 5G footprint continues to grow as we lead this era of transformational change by building these next-generation networks the right way,” CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement.

 

Verizon CEO: Free Disney+ Promotion a ‘Win, Win’

Following the Nov. 12 launch of the Disney+ subscription streaming service, Verizon began offering new and existing mobile subscribers 12 months of free access to the SVOD service.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told Fox Business response to the promotion has been strong. Indeed, 10 million consumers signed up for Disney+ in the first 24 hours, with 15 million reportedly becoming subscribers in the first five days — many due to the Verizon promo.

Verizon subs accessing Disney+ automatically transition to the $6.99 price plan after one year unless they cancel their membership.

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“We can partner with anyone, and we partner with the best brands and, of course, Disney+ is a win-win,” Vestberg said Dec. 5. “I mean, we are gaining and they are gaining in this partnership.”

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The CEO wouldn’t disclose initial viewership data, saying the promo melds the telecom’s 5G partnership with Disney, which includes undisclosed initiatives with Disney Innovation Studios and theme parks.

Verizon had more than 156 million subscribers at the end of the second quarter this year.

“I think we both are very happy with … the start of [the relationship],” Vestberg said.

Verizon Loses 220,000 Fios TV Subs in Third Quarter

The pay-TV subscriber drain is getting bigger and bigger.

A day after Comcast Cable said it lost 238,000 video subscribers in the fiscal quarter, Verizon Oct. 25 disclosed it jettisoned 220,000 Fios TV subs in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30.

The losses underscore ongoing secular changes in how consumers are watching television in the home — notably the rise of over-the-top video options such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, in addition to online  TV platforms such as Sling TV, YouTube TV and AT&T TV Now, among others.

Verizon, which doesn’t have an OTT video play after losing $1 billion in the short-lived go90 mobile app venture, ended the quarter with 4.2 million Fios TV subs. That compared to more than 4.4 million in the previous-year period.

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The telecom is countering a lack of internal OTT features by embracing next-generation 5G and inking a partnership with Disney for the latter”s pending SVOD platform Disney+.

Subscribers to Verizon’s unlimited data plan will get one-year free access to the $6.99 monthly Disney streaming service.

Verizon did add 30,000 Fios broadband subscribers, which was down from 48,000 net additions in the previous-year period. The telecom ended the quarter with more than 5.8 million broadband subs, up from more than 5.7 million last year.

The company added 440,000 mobile phone subs, which was up from 295,000 phone net additions in third-quarter 2018.

In a statement, CEO Hans Vestberg ignored Fios, highlighting instead Verizon’s legacy wireless business and 5G initiatives.

“Verizon continued its momentum in the third quarter by driving strong wireless volumes in both our consumer and business segments, while delivering solid financial results, highlighted by continued wireless service revenue growth, increased cash flow, and EPS growth,” Vestberg said in a statement. “We are focused on our 5G rollout strategy, looking to deploy next-generation networks while enhancing our 4G LTE network. Going into the fourth quarter, we are energized by the strong performance of the business and we are confident in our strategy to drive value for our customers and growth for our shareholders.”

Verizon Giving Away Free Year of Disney+ Streaming Service

In another competitive blow to Netflix, Verizon Oct. 22 announced it would give subscribers with unlimited data plans a free year membership to Disney’s pending subscription streaming service, Disney+.

The agreement includes new Fios Home Internet and 5G Home Internet customers.

Set to launch on Nov. 12, Disney+ will be the dedicated streaming home for movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and more.

Disney+ claims it will release more than 25 original series and 10 original films and documentaries, including “The Mandalorian,” from executive producer and writer Jon Favreau, and Lady and the Tramp, a live-action remake of the 1955 animated classic.

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“Giving Verizon customers an unprecedented offer and access to Disney+ on the platform of their choice is yet another example of our commitment to provide the best premium content available through key partnerships on behalf of our customers,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement.

The carrier is also working with Disney to incorporate 5G technology to the entertainment industry through Disney Innovation Studios and in the parks.

“The launch of Disney+ kicks off a new era of streaming for The Walt Disney Company, bringing nearly a century’s worth of content from our iconic studios to consumers directly,” Kevin Mayer, chairman, direct-to-consumer & international, The Walt Disney Company, said. “We’re excited to share this moment with Verizon and bring Disney+ to the millions of customers across its award-winning wireless network.”

In tandem with the launch, Verizon becomes the exclusive wireless carrier to offer 12 months of Disney+ to all new and existing 4G LTE and 5G unlimited wireless customers.

Verizon will also offer 12 months of Disney+ to its new Fios Home Internet and 5G Home Internet customers.

At launch, Verizon customers can activate their Disney+ subscription and start streaming on a wide selection of mobile and connected TV devices, including gaming consoles, streaming media players, and smart TVs.

 

Verizon More Than Doubles Q1 Video Subscriber Losses

Verizon dreams of a 5G future while stuck in pay-TV reality.

The nation’s largest wireless carrier April 23 reported it lost 53,000 Fios TV subscribers in the first quarter, ended March 31. That compared to a loss of 22,000 video subs in the previous-year period.

Verizon ended the period with 4.39 million Fios TV subs compared to 4.59 million subs last year — down 199,000 net subs, or 4.3% from 2018.

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The company attributed the decline to ongoing consumer migration away from linear pay-TV to over-the-top video platforms.

While Verizon Internet connections increased 3.4% to 6.1 million from 5.9 million, broadband connections fell nearly 19% to 854,000.

The company ended the period with 6.97 million broadband connections, up 0.1% from 6.96 million subs last year.

Separately, Verizon Media, which includes Yahoo!, HuffPost, TechCrunch, Engadget, Makers and other brands, saw revenue drop more than 7% to $1.8 billion – largely due to declines in desktop advertising revenue offsetting gains in mobile ads.

Regardless, CEO Hans Vestberg touted Verizon’s “leadership” position in 4G and ongoing “innovation” in 5G wireless technology.

Rollout of branded OTT video products remains notably absent following last year’s $1 billion write-down of Go90, Verizon’s short-lived mobile video app.

“We are leading the world in the development of new technologies with the launch of our 5G network,” Vestberg said in a statement. “Our ambition remains unchanged to provide the most advanced next-generation networks in the world.”

 

Verizon Lost 168,000 Fios TV Subs in 2018

Verizon Communications Jan. 29 reported it lost 46,000 Fios TV subscribers in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018), reflecting the ongoing secular shift from traditional linear pay-TV to over-the-top video offerings. The telecom lost 29,000 video subs in the previous-year period.

Verizon ended 2018 with 4.45 million Fios Video subscribers, down 3.6% from 4.61 million subs at the end of 2017.

“We expect legacy product revenue to continue to decline in 2019 at rates consistent with last year,” CFO Matt Ellis said on the fiscal call.

Meanwhile, Verizon added 217,000 broadband subscribers – underscoring consumer demand for high-speed Internet service in an era of online TV and OTT video services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

The telecom also continues to push 5G, the next-generation faster mobile network technology. The company (along with AT&T) claimed the first commercial and residential rollouts of 5G networks, despite the limited supply of compatible 5G smartphones on the market.

“As we head into 2019 and the 5G era, we’re beginning a period of transformational change,” CEO Hans Vestberg said in a statement. “We are laser focused on delivering customers a best-in-class and game-changing experience on our networks.”

 

Verizon Reorganizes Internally; Focus on 5G, Not OTT Video Content

With more than 150 million subscribers, Verizon is the largest wireless telecommunications operator in the United States. It also does not have a proprietary over-the-top video platform – despite spending more than $1 billion on the short-lived Go90 app, which included some original content.

New CEO Hans Vestberg Nov. 5 announced an internal management restructure that focuses on the consumer, business and media (including Oath) – apparently in that order.

“We’re building on our network transformation efforts … to deliver new customer experiences and optimize the growth opportunities we see as leaders in the 5G era,” Vestberg said in a statement. “We’re focused on how our technology can benefit customers’ lives and society at large.”

Verizon says its media group “sits at the intersection of media, advertising and technology,” with the goal of helping people access and receive media, entertainment, gaming, news, commerce and other services.

It will continue to be led by Guru Gowrappan, who was previously announced as Oath CEO. Former boss Tim Armstrong departed the subsidiary – which includes Yahoo, AOL, HuffPost, BrightRoll, and EdgeCast, among others – earlier this year, reportedly over disagreements with Vestberg regarding his decision to focus on technology rather than video content.

Indeed, last month Verizon launched 5G network coverage in four cities: Los Angeles, Houston, Indianapolis and Sacramento, Calif. Rollout included the choice of a free Apple TV with 4K functionality or Google Chromecast device, and 90-days of access to online TV platform YouTube TV.

“The world’s first commercial 5G service is here,” Ronan Dunne, president of Verizon Wireless, said on Oct. 1. Dunne will now also oversee the consumer segment, focusing on wireless and wireline business segments, including wireless wholesale.

The focus on technology over content echoed former CEO Lowell McAdam’s comments on a fiscal call earlier this year.

“We are not going to be owning content,” McAdam said on the Q2 call. “We’re not going to compete with content. We’re going to be the best partner for the content distribution business.”

Those statements were followed up in May when McAdam told Yahoo Finance Verizon was scuttling plans to launch an OTT video service.

“Our view is that we should partner with those that are in the linear game,” McAdam said. “Let them be very good at what they do. We’ll add digital content into that mix, and we’ll position ourselves for where we become more of an over-the-top video culture versus the linear model that we have today.”

Verizon Loses 151K Fios Video Subs, Puts Focus on 5G

Verizon Oct. 23 revealed it lost 151,000 Fios video subscribers in third-quarter (ended Sept. 30), impacted by ongoing consumer shifts away from traditional linear pay-TV offerings. The telecom ended the period with 4.49 million Fios video subs compared to 4.64 million subs in the previous-year period.

Net video sub losses totaled 63,000 compared to 18,000 last year. Year-to-date net losses have reached 122,000 compared to 46,000 during the previous-year period. Broadband connections remained relatively flat at 6.95 million compared to 6.97 million.

More importantly, the wired segment (Fios video and broadband) reported an operating loss of $50 million on revenue of $7.4 billion, compared to operating income of $65 million and revenue of $7.7 billion last year.

To new CEO Hans Vestberg, the video sub/operating income losses apparently don’t warrant mention as the telecom rolls out what it claims is the world’s first 5G wireless commercial network.

“With the beginning of the 5G era in this fourth quarter … we are investing in networks, creating platforms to add value for customers and maintaining a focused, disciplined strategy,” Vestberg said in a statement. “Verizon is best positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the new game-changing generation of technology.”

Indeed, Verizon ended the period with more than 112 million wireless connections (mobile phones, tablets and related devices), up 2.2% from 109.6 million connections last year. The company added 295,000 mobile phone connections.

Separately, Verizon said it does not expect to meet the previous announced target of $10 billion in Oath revenue by 2020. The media entertainment unit, which includes AOL, Yahoo, Verizon digital media services and related brands such as TechCrunch, Engadget and HuffPost, reported quarterly revenue of $1.8 billion – down nearly 7% from last year.

Tim Armstrong, the former AOL CEO who headed Oath since its inception, exited the unit in September and was replaced by K. Guru Gowrappan, effective Oct. 1.

Finally, go90, Verizon’s short-lived video entertainment app targeting younger mobile users, ceased operations in quarter after generating about $1 billion in losses.

Verizon CEO Succession Underscores OTT Video Failure

NEWS ANALYSIS — Verizon June 8 announced that longtime CEO Lowell McAdam is retiring at the end of the year, and will be replaced by Hans Vestberg, EVP, president of global networks and CTO, on Aug. 1.

McAdam, who will serve as executive board chairman through the end of the year, after which he will employ a golden parachute as non-executive chairman, leaves a legacy of disappointment when it comes to succeeding in over-the-top video.

Unlike rival AT&T, which acquired DirecTV Now and is attempting to close a $85 billion purchase of Time Warner to fuel its OTT video aspirations, Verizon has limped along acquiring yesterday brands (AOL and Yahoo combined into Oath subsidairy) while stumbling to rollout a viable proprietary online TV service or competitor to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Hulu.

That Verizon needed a new CEO, one with digital tech experience who could do more than skip fiscal calls while making the rounds of Wall Street gabfests, was driven home last month when McAdam raised the white flag of defeat.

After the failed launch of Go90, the oddly named mobile-centric video app that attempted to connect with younger audiences through quirky programming, McAdam said Verizon going forward would partner with a third party in future OTT video plans.

It tried that in 2013 with “Redbox Instant by Verizon,” a hybrid strategy aimed at melding packaged-media rentals at kiosks with subscription streaming video. The service lasted just 18 months, with Redbox admitting the erstwhile Netflix competitor was “not as successful as we hoped it would be.”

Now, Verizon wants to piggyback on someone else’s OTT ground game.

“Let them be very good at what they do,” McAdam said last month at a market confab. “We’ll add digital content to that mix, and we’ll position ourselves for where we become more of an OTT video culture versus the linear model that we have today.”

Indeed, McAdam, like a lot of pay-TV executives, is facing exponential churn among his linear Fios TV subscribers in a rapidly evolving SVOD landscape.

“We’ll integrate our Oath assets into the linear assets that they have and bring the full package to customers,” he said.

While sounding like so much digital Malt-O-Meal, the fact remains Verizon remains on the outside while rivals Dish Network (Sling TV), AT&T (DirecTV Now), Charter (Spectrum TV Plus), Google (YouTube TV) and Comcast (X1 with Netflix) carve up the OTT landscape within the shrinking linear TV ecosystem.

Maybe Swedish-born Vestberg, who once ran mobile network pioneer Ericsson, will succeed in walking the talk.