The company said its direct-to-consumer subscription revenue rose 25%.
Getting into the DTC business was a priority for AT&T when it spent billions to buy media-based companies DirecTV and Time Warner. After facing difficulties, AT&T has reversed course. It spun off DirecTV this year and made a deal to sell what is now WarnerMedia to Discovery.
AT&T is now focusing on its wireless and broadband businesses.
For the company, third-quarter net income was $5.9 billion, or 82 cents a share, up from $2.8 billion, or 39 cents a share a year ago.
Revenue dropped 4.7% to $39.9 billion reflecting the spinoff of DirecTV and other businesses.
The earnings beat Wall Street expectations, but revenue was below forecasts.
The once and future phone company said it now expects full-year adjusted earnings per share (EPS_ to be at the high end of the low- to mid-single-digit-growth forecast it issued earlier in the year.
At WarnerMedia, third-quarter revenue rose 14.2% to $8.4 billion. The company said it had higher content revenues and higher subscription revenues that offset lower ad revenue.
Subscriber revenue was up 14.7% to $4 billion as HBO Max added subs. There were 45.2 million domestic HBO and HBO subscribers at the end of the quarter, up 7.1 million from a year ago. But HBO Max and HBO lost 1.8 million subscribers from last quarter, partly because it discontinued working with Amazon Channels. HBO Max and HBO had 47 million domestic subscribers at the end of the second quarter.
The company said it expects to reach the higher end of the end-of-year HBO Max/HBO global subscriber target of 70 million to 73 million subscribers.
Ad revenue fell 12.4% to $1.4 billion. The company blamed a shift in the start of the NBA season and lower political ad spending.
Costs for film and non-sports programming were up, as were marketing costs.
Operating income was $2 billion, up 15.2% from last year.
“We continue to execute well in growing customer relationships, and we’re on track to meet our guidance for the year,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said. “We had our best postpaid phone net add quarter in more than 10 years, our fiber broadband net adds increased sequentially, and HBO Max global subscribers neared 70 million. We also have clear line of sight on reaching the halfway mark by the end of the year of our $6 billion cost-savings goal.”
AT&T said it added 6,000 total broadband and digital subscriber line customers. AT&T Fiber net adds were 289,000.
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.