DirecTV Now subscriber momentum holding despite tech challenges, UBS analyst says

DirecTV Now HBO (AT&T)
DirecTV Now ranked 41st last week among all other entertainment apps in terms of iPad downloads.

Despite myriad complaints about DirecTV Now’s streaming performance, AT&T’s virtual MVPD platform continues to rapidly gain subscribers, according to UBS analyst John Hodulik, who has been tracking app downloads for the major OTT services.

Putting to work the white-coated team in the UBS Evidence Lab, UBS tracked app downloads for DirecTV Now five weeks out from its Nov. 30 launch, comparing them to uptake for Dish’s Sling TV, Verizon’s Go90, HBO Now and Showtime’s streaming service.

“DirecTV Now is holding up better than its peers since launch (trailing only HBO Now),” Hodulik said in a note sent to investors today. “We find that download rankings typically fall after week one (modestly for HBO Now, more so with others), which generally coincides with news coverage and the biggest ad push from their owners.”

RELATED: DirecTV Now streaming tech endures rocky launch

The news comes despite a flurry of negative reports from the tech press, implicating the streaming performance of the service. In fact, The Verge counted more than 200 active forum threads on AT&T’s website complaining about DirecTV Now technical issues. 

Still, last week, DirecTV Now still ranked 41st among all other entertainment apps in terms of iPad downloads, according to UBS. This compares to the No. 47 ranking for rival v-MVPD service Sling TV.

UBS expects momentum to carry forward as DirecTV Now’s service develops and the technical issues get resolved. 

“We expect the DirecTV Now app and content to evolve over time, becoming a more mobile-centric product,” Hodulik added. “AT&T plans to add non-platform content, DVR and multistream capabilities soon. We believe the main question remains the overall user experience and the quality of the product as it scales. While DirecTV Now faced some software issues at launch, management is confident they will be fixed within weeks.”

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