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Streaming bundles may be turning a corner as cord-cutting accelerates

Streaming bundles may be turning a corner as cord-cutting accelerates
[Photo: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Vulture Festival]

AT&T says DirecTV Now has surpassed 1 million subscribers, right around the streaming bundle’s first birthday. That’s enough to offset a sharp decline in AT&T’s traditional pay TV businesses–including U-Verse and DirecTV satellite service–which, by our calculations, lost 761,900 subscribers over the last four quarters. Analyst firm MoffettNathanson reported that the pay TV business grew as a whole last quarter when factoring in streaming bundles such as DirecTV Now, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV.

That’s not to say the industry’s cord-cutting crisis is over. Streaming bundles are a lower-margin business than traditional TV, and because each service tends to omit some channels that are part of most cable bundles, TV networks are still seeing their audiences dwindle. (Just look at ESPN.) AT&T may also be spending lots of money to acquire DirecTV Now customers, both through free device deals and discounts on AT&T wireless service. But as more people flee traditional TV, the company doesn’t have much choice but to take part in the land grab.JN