The rumors have been building for weeks, so the latest one that has AT&T on the brink of a deal to purchase DirecTV for about $50B isn’t exactly unexpected. But I haven’t been able to get terribly excited about it so far.
Certainly it makes sense for AT&T to buy its way deeper into television, giving it that extra dimension to compete with cable MSOs and such. And with net neutrality under pressure and Netflix signing paid interconnection deals, perhaps the fear of a flood of OTT competition has receded a bit.
But on the other hand, AT&T has been getting pulled reluctantly into more FTTH deployments by the likes of Google Fiber, improving economics, and pressure from big (and soon bigger) Cable. Having another customer base they might see as being cannibalized by that could throw a bit of cold water on more aggressive, longer-term fiber buildout plans.
Satellite is great for broadcast, but there are things you can’t do with it and never will be able to. Combined, AT&T/DirectTV could certainly act as a counterweight to Comcast/TWC and to Verizon for the near and mid term. But beyond that, I have this underlying feeling that whatever the next big thing is, integrating DirecTV won’t help AT&T adapt to it.
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