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AT&T could be looking to Android TV as DirecTV sub losses mount

AT&T is set to introduce a new Android TV-based set-top box that could be used as a replacement technology for DirecTV’s satellite platform, according to a report in Variety, which spotted the telco’s FCC filing for the device.

The new box, referred to as the C71KW-400, is described in the relevant documents as an ‘AT&T/DirecTV wireless 4K OTT client’ and comes with a voice-enabled remote and HDMI and USB ports, but no antenna connectivity. Screenshots in the manual show images of Google’s YouTube and Google Play Movies services running on the device.

Variety’s report pointed out that the new box is branded as a DirecTV device rather than a DirecTV Now receiver, suggesting that the telco plans to use it as a replacement for the satellite offering rather than for its OTT TV service.

The move comes as AT&T posted deepening losses for DirecTV and its AT&T U-Verse TV services for the third quarter. DirecTV lost 241,000 satellite customers during the quarter, even more than for the already bad second quarter, when it lost 156,000, taking its total to 20.6 million. U-Verse lost 134,000 IPTV customers, a slightly lower rate of loss than the previous quarter, taking the total for that service to 3.7 million.

Randall Stephenson

Randall Stephenson

The losses were partially, but not completely compensated, by gains for low-cost OTT service DirecTV Now, which added 296,000 subscribers, resulting in a net video loss of 89,000 customers. This compared with a net loss of 199,000 for the quarter to June, when DirecTV Now’s 152,000 additions failed to compensate to the same extent for satellite and IPTV losses.

In quarterly results expected to be the last before the company’s acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T posted Q3 revenues of US$39.7 billion (€33.8 billion), down from US$40.9 billion for the prior year, and operating income of US$6.4 billion, flat year-on-year.

“We look forward to closing our acquisition of Time Warner and bringing together premium content with world-class distribution to deliver a better entertainment experience for consumers and more effective targeted advertising,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chairman and CEO.

“We’re also on track to have one of the largest high-speed internet networks in the US, reaching more than 50 million customer locations with competitive high speeds. This expansion will make our bundled video, mobile and broadband services even more compelling.”