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Verizon lost 84,000 pay TV subscribers in Q1 as consumers continue shift to streaming

The company earlier closed 70 percent of its retail stores

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Verizon lost 84,000 Fios TV subscribers and 68,000 postpaid mobile phone subscribers during the first quarter of 2020 as the telecom company continued seeing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In its earnings report this morning, Verizon said it’s seeing an “ongoing shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings.” That trend isn’t new, but widespread quarantines are only helping to push it along.

With 70 percent of Verizon’s stores closed, the company said it also saw declines in equipment sales. Still, its consumer division reported 59,000 net additions to its Fios internet service.

Verizon had first-quarter revenue of $31.6 billion, which was short of the $32.4 billion forecast by Wall Street analysts.

Verizon’s media division posted revenue of $1.7 billion for the first quarter, a year-over-year drop of 4 percent. This was due to weak advertising trends last month, the company said; its media unit includes HuffPost and Yahoo.

“Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, year-over-year revenue trends continued the steady improvement seen in full-year 2019. Verizon Media has seen increased levels of customer engagement on its platforms, but advertising rates have declined in the current environment.”

Verizon is taking part in the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, waiving late fees and not terminating service for customers during the pandemic. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said in an interview on CNBC after the earnings call today that the company was working with customers who have been unable to pay.

He also said Verizon is still on plan for its 5G deployment, even though people aren’t going into stores to buy devices. “We have good connections with our supply chain,” Vestberg said. “I think when people see the improvements of 5G I think that people will actually want it.”