AT&T TV (phew, that’s a lot of T’s) is getting serious. The phone and tech company AT&T already offers TV airwaves through their land-based U-verse TV service. According to reports, though, the phone company wants more. 40-billion-dollars-worth more. That’s the entire DirecTV company.
It’s a surprising twist, especially considering that the Aereo TV lawsuit hasn’t finished. Aereo TV is a TV ‘cloud sharing’ service that taps into local television programs and allows user access for free (on mobile devices only). The problem comes in the payment that is given to local broadcasters to air through certain services, something that won’t happen if their stations are being viewed through the Aereo app. Broadcasters have sued and legal proceedings are in motion. The fear is that if Aereo is found in the legal right, national broadcasts could soon become free product through the cloud. Unused broadcasting services, unpaid broadcasters. Nearly everyone in the TV industry is watching the Aereo TV lawsuit… except, apparently, AT&T.
So what happens if AT&T’s $40 billion acquisition goes through? Well, then all DirecTV’s 20 million paid TV subscribers nationwide would find themselves proud new (or renewed) AT&T TV customers. AT&T also has roughly 5.7 million customers for its landline-based TV business, U-verse. DirecTV is the second largest TV service in the nation. Put the two together and you get a paid TV giant that rivals the first spot holder, Comcast, even after Comcast’s Time Warner Cable acquisition is finished.
All eyes are still on the Aereo lawsuit. Depending on the verdict AT&T’s offer could rise or fall in dollar amount, though it seems that the phone company is banking on Aereo being legally removed from the picture. If AT&T’s offer is accepted and the acquisition is undergone, their U-verse TV service would envelope the DirecTV resources. A huge bonus for the 5.7 million U-verse consumers. An anxious moment for current DirecTV consumers.
DirecTV was launched June 17, 1994 and has been transmitting reliably (usually) into homes across the nation. United States Satellite Broadcasting put the first DirecTV Satellite into orbit and partnered with DirecTV to launch the start of what is now an iconic company. DirecTV bought full ownership with 1.3 billion in 1998, then expanded by acquiring PrimeStar for 1.83 billion in 1999. Up until 2004 Direct TV was a conglomerate of the Hughes company but became a stand alone company when Hughes made the decision to focus on it’s satellite broadcast services. We take a moment to appreciate the evolution of DirecTV as they take a moment to comprehend the 40 billion on the table.