After growing rapidly in its first three months online to 328,000 subscribers, DirecTV Now hit a wall in February, losing 3,000 customers, then saw growth flatline in March, according to stats gathered by Bloomberg.
The news service, which cites “people familiar with the matter,” offers insight into what has been somewhat of a mystery in the pay TV business.
AT&t said its new virtual MVPD platform gathered 200,000 users from its Nov. 30 launch through the end of the fourth quarter on Dec. 31. The company, however, did not break out subscriber figures for the first quarter.
By Bloomberg’s tally, DirecTV added 125,000 users in the first quarter, with all of the growth coming in January. Other estimates have been higher. Leichtman Research Group, for example, estimated that the vMVPD platform added 175,000 during the first three moths of the year.
For its part, AT&T has spun a “we meant to do that” narrative, suggesting the company pulled back on promotion on DirecTV Now after a series of early technical issues.
“It ramped up a lot faster than we ever thought it would, which is a great thing but also caught us a bit flat-footed on a couple things,” said Bill Hogg, president of technology and operations for AT&T, speaking two weeks ago at a Miami investor event.
“Our teams have been working through capacity, have been working through authentication issues, streaming issues,” added Hogg. “What we’re seeing is the error rates are declining pretty fast and that the platform is stabilizing.”
Regardless of the machinations at hand, DirecTV Now could use growth momentum right now, given the recent entry of YouTube and Hulu into a suddenly crowded vMVPD market that already included Dish’s Sling TV and Sony PlayStation Vue.