Verizon loses 51K Fios TV subs, adds 35K Fios Internet subs in Q4

Verizon's Fios business continued to chug along in Q4 2019, producing ho-hum results that weren't bad. But they weren't all that great, either.

Verizon lost 51,000 Fios video customers in Q4, slightly worse than the 46,000 subs it lost in the year-ago quarter. For all of 2019, Verizon shed 225,000 Fios TV customers, versus a loss of 171,000 in 2018. Verizon ended 2019 with 4.15 million Fios TV customers.

On the broadband side, Verizon added 35,000 Fios Internet customers in Q4, slowed from year-ago adds of 49,000. Verizon ended 2019 with 5.90 million Fios Internet subs.

For the full broadband category, which includes DSL, Verizon lost 2,000 broadband subs in Q4. For the full year, Verizon added just 7,000 subs to the aggregate broadband category, versus 19,000 total broadband adds in 2018. Verizon ended 2019 with 6.46 million broadband customers.

Verizon also lost 52,000 Fios digital voice subs in Q4 2019, ending the year with 3.62 million.

Verizon doesn't release sub numbers for 5G Home, a fixed wireless home broadband service relying on millimeter wave spectrum that's been sitting in a holding pattern after some initial launches in a handful of US markets.

Speaking on Thursday's earnings call, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg reiterated that the company expects next-gen chipsets for 5G Home customer premises equipment to arrive in Q3 2019, with a wider commercial rollout in several more US markets to follow.

Reflecting the shoulder shrug that has become this portion of Verizon's residential business, the company pulled in total Fios revenues of $2.82 billion in Q4 2019, flat from the year-ago results.

Mix & Match questions
Verizon was also pressed a bit about the early results for its new Mix & Match plans for Fios that lead with a range of broadband speed options (from 100 Mbit/s up to 1 Gbit/s) and then allow customers to select a Fios TV tier or bundle in YouTube TV, Google's OTT-delivered pay-TV service. One analyst wondered if it was Verizon's intention for the YouTube TV option to be the most financially attractive and if it makes sense for YouTube TV to be the only option at some point so the company could instead focus on Fios's more solid broadband story.

Vestberg said the core idea of the new plans is to "give customers optionality on top of the broadband" and to allow customers to pick packages that best suit their needs. "It's a little bit early, but I think our customers are very happy that we're giving them this optionality," he said.

But he did give a nod to the OTT video trend. OTT "is where the market is going … more and more content is coming and you need to start mixing and matching."

That comment also arrives in the wake of Verizon's agreement to provide a year of Disney+ to mobile customers on unlimited plans and to new home broadband customers (Fios and 5G Home).

Verizon "is pleased with the uptake of Disney+," said Matthew Ellis, Verizon's EVP and CFO. But he didn't disclose how many subscriptions to Disney's new streaming service have been meted out through the promotion.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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