AT&T U-verse closes in on Verizon FiOS

AT&T in the fourth quarter of 2011 added more video subscribers to its U-verse service than Verizon did for its FiOS offering, marking the 10th straight quarter that AT&T has exceeded Verizon, according to IHS Screen Digest.

AT&T added 208,000 U-verse accounts during the final quarter of 2011, resulting in overall new subscribers of 804,000 for the year. In comparison, Verizon saw new FiOS signups of 194,000 in the fourth quarter, leading to 701,000 additional subscribers in 2011.

All told, Verizon—which launched FiOS two quarters ahead of U-verse toward the end of 2004—remained the leader in total subscribers for 2011, at 4.17 million. But although Verizon enjoyed a lead of almost 1 million at the end of 2008, AT&T has been making steady gains in the last two years, gradually cutting Verizon’s advantage. With Uverse subscribers at the end of 2011 reaching 3.79 million, the lead enjoyed by FiOS narrowed to just 400,000 TV subscribers.

“U-verse’s strong growth relative to FiOS is setting the stage for AT&T to take over the lead from Verizon by a nose at the end of 2013,” said Tom Adams, senior principal analyst for U.S. media at IHS.

Ending the year, year-over-year growth for U-verse in 2011 compared with 2010 was up 27  per cent, compared with FiOS which was up 20  per cent in the same period. IHS estimates that U-verse subscribers at the end of 2013 will total 5.04 million, compared to 5.03 million for FiOS.

AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS both offer purely infrastructure-based pipelines for the delivery of television and entertainment services. The two telco TV firms have entered the US pay-TV fray in the wake of services that were first launched by traditional cable TV systems and direct broadcast satellite providers in the 1990s.

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