For anyone keeping a close eye on the competition taking place among vMVPD players, its no secret that AT&T’s DirecTV Now “skinny bundle” is set to catch up to SlingTV. In fact, this most recent quarter was a big sign of what’s to come if both companies stay on the same growth track.
While SlingTV still holds more subs than DirecTV Now, the Dish-owned service only added 40,000 subs in Q2. That’s less than 1/7 of the growth experienced by AT&T’s service, which added 342,000 subs. Of course, the jump in subscriber numbers for DirecTV Now is likely influenced by its recent line of promotions, offering things like 3 months of service for $10/mo. Still — even in Q1 the platform’s subscriber growth trumped Sling. The AT&T-owned service racked up 312,000 subs, while Sling added just 91,000.
If both company’s keep on their current path, analysts are predicting that in 5 years DirecTV Now will be the leading streaming TV service, outpacing SlingTV by 2 million subs. Digital TV Research — a London-based TV research company — predicts that in 2023 DirecTV Now will have 5.4 million, followed by Hulu Live with 3.9 million; Sling TV at 3.5 million, and YouTube TV with 3.3 million, according to a report from Media Post.
The study does not take into account AT&T’s newest skinny bundle, AT&T Watch — which is free to its unlimited wireless customers and $15/mo for everyone else — or the recently launched OTT TV service from Philo, which starts at $16/mo. These lower priced packages are likely to influence the decisions of cordcutters and cordnevers looking for affordable premium programming, which has increased significantly since last year. US households using a pure-play vMVPD service has more than doubled since last year, according to a report from eMarketer. However, despite the increase in subscribers, only 5 percent of US households currently subscribe to a vMVPD.