Verizon Communications lost 18,000 Fios video subscribers in the third quarter of 2017. It marks its third consecutive video customer quarterly loss, but it hardly seems bothered by that. It attributed the reduction to “the ongoing shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings.” Verizon is more concerned with working out its own online video play.
Verizon ended the third quarter with 4.64 million Fios video subscribers. That is is 25,000 fewer than it had twelve months previously.
That is not a large loss, around half of one percent, but it is indicative of the flat performance, following its previous consistent growth.
The recent rate of quarterly loss has been increasing, from 13,000 to 15,000 and now 18,000, but they are still relatively small shifts.
So does that signal a secular shift as customers cut the cord with pay television services? Or does it simply indicate that Verizon is no longer chasing growth in such services when broadband and mobile are far more profitable? After all, people still have to pay for a connection.
Verizon Fios is the fifth largest television and video service provider in the United States in the informitv Multiscreen Index, ahead of AT&T U-verse, which has also been shedding subscribers, but some way behind Comcast, DIRECTV, Charter Spectrum, and DISH Network, which have over 72 million subscribers between them.
Verizon transferred 1.19 million customers to Frontier Communications in April 2016, before which it had build a customer base of 5.86 million for its fibre-based television service.
However, Verizon Fios has been steadily gaining internet subscribers. It added 66,000 in the third quarter, and 218,000 year-on-year, taking it to a total of 5.81 million. It even increased its number of residential voice customers slightly, up 11,000 to 3.92 million, which is 25,000 more than a year before.
So is Verizon bothered? Maybe not. It received $3.2 billion in revenues from consumer wireline services in the third quarter, which was up slightly on the previous quarter and the same period the previous year.
That is nothing compared to the $21.6 billion Verizon received in revenues from wireless, up by nearly $300 million on the previous quarter but down by over half a billion on the year prior quarter.
Total consolidated operating revenues in third-quarter 2017 were $31.7 billion, with an operating income of $7.6 billion, in three months.
Compare that to global revenues of just under $3 billion for Netflix in the same period, on which it made a net income of just under $130 million.
Matt Ellis, the chief financial officer of Verizon, told analysts: “Our wireline results were consistent with the past quarters, despite ongoing consumer video headwinds throughout the industry.” He said: “Fios Video results were pressured due to the ongoing shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings as well as competitive promotional activity.”
He repeated the view that “the traditional linear TV bundle is not long-term sustainable.” He said: “we are not surprised by what we’ve seen around the TV now.” But he added: “When you move to over-the-top for your video entertainment, the quality of that broadband connection becomes more important than ever.”
With respect to talk of an over the top video service, he said: “This is a space where we think there’s an opportunity for us to play. We think that it makes sense for us to play in that space, but we don’t want to launch just a me-too type product.” He said it would probably be “around live programming”. The project has suffered several delays and is reportedly now looking at launching in the first half of 2018.
Meanwhile, Verizon is busy integrating its AOL and Yahoo acquisitions, now part of a subsidiary with the unlikely name of Oath, Inc. Apparently the name was chosen to convey its commitment to the media business. The various business units, which include brands like Engadget and Flickr, brought in $2 billion in revenue in the third quarter.
“With the addition of Oath,” the chief financial officer said, “Verizon’s addressable market has expanded from millions of wireless and wireline customers to about 1 billion global content consumers.”