TV cord-cutting is picking up steam, and AT&T’s CEO predicts there’s a long way to go before it stops.
On an earnings call Thursday, AT&T CEO John Stankey said “we’re probably going to see a little bit of a plateauing” when the number of homes subscribing to pay TV hits 55 million to 60 million. Most of those homes will include sports fans, he said.
It’s a stark outlook for an industry that’s already suffered a long subscriber exodus. There were about 91 million pay-TV subscribers at the end of 2019, including some 8 million who signed up to online-TV bundles like Hulu and YouTube TV. About 3.5 million people cut the cord in the first half of the year, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
While AT&T, Comcast, Charter Communications and other TV providers are focusing their businesses on delivering internet service, owners of cable channels are especially vulnerable. That’s because more cord-cutting means lower subscriber fees, a key revenue stream. Stankey added that AT&T is focusing on growing its new online streaming service, HBO Max, to prepare for the future.