Stephens: Sunday Ticket to Push AT&T Video Over Goal Line

AT&T chief financial officer John Stephens said after two consecutive quarters of negative video customer growth, the telecom company should finish the year in the black, fueled in part by subscriber gains from its DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-market football package.

At the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment conference Wednesday, Stephens said that after second quarter losses of about 49,000 video customers, AT&T was on a path toward positive growth.

AT&T has two video services – the wireline U-verse TV and the satellite delivered DirecTV. Over the past two quarters AT&T has been migrating U-verse customers to its DirecTV platform. While DirecTV has had robust growth over the quarterly periods – it added 328,000 and 342,000 net new subscribers in the first and second quarters respectively – it hasn’t been enough to fully offset heavy losses at U-verse.

At the conference, Stephens said AT&T expected its subscriber growth to be skewed more toward the second half of the year, when Sunday Ticket is in full swing. But he said that isn’t the only factor in video growth.

“[I]t's because of the NFL [Sunday] Ticket coming out, it's because we are going to get better, our installation guys are going to get better with single truck rolls, it is because our sales teams and our call centers and our customer care centers were all going to get better more efficient, more used to cross selling the products because many of the folks in those organizations and the systems in those organizations were built to cross sell both video and broadband,” Stephens said. “So we are continuing to work on that, we haven't changed that goal and that guidance and we continue to work really hard to achieve it.”