May 12, 2014. That’s when reality set in. There had been rumors of a deal between AT&T and DIRECTV before that, but on that day, there was enough concrete evidence to say that it could really happen. I wrote,
It could be happening after all. Or, it could just be one person’s imagination. Several sites including Marketwatch are reporting that a deal between AT&T and DIRECTV could come within weeks. Of course, that’s based primarily on rumor and speculation, since neither party has stepped forward to confirm any of the facts of the matter.
If a deal is announced, of course it would come under the same regulatory scrutiny as the Comcast/Time Warner Cable deal that’s been announced, and it’s far from certain that such a deal would be approved by the FCC. It’s also unclear what the timetable would be for merging the two companies or if there would truly be a merger at all.
Remember that at one point DIRECTV was owned by GM, and yet there are no DIRECTV-equipped Chevrolets; that they were once owned by News Corp. and yet it was not renamed Fox TV, and that Liberty Media once held quite a bit of DIRECTV stock yet there was essentially zero synergy between DIRECTV and any of Liberty’s vast other holdings. An ownership stake by AT&T doesn’t mean that U-Verse TV and DIRECTV would merge or share anything but a corporate parent, or that there would even be any bundle discount with AT&T products and DIRECTV.
It’s been said before, as tantalizing as it is to contemplate a future where DIRECTV has broadband access to a large part of the US, there is quite a long road ahead before consumers could see any benefit to a deal, while at the same time AT&T’s current customers would no doubt see some negative effects of their provider paying well over $50 billion (if that is a fair figure) for DIRECTV.
Well, we all know how that went. DIRECTV is now part of the massive AT&T empire, and for most people, it’s been a great transition. I know, some folks were laid off or early-retired, some people have had account problems and all, but most people enjoy a discounted rate on their services, a single portal to pay their bills, and improvements like being able to stream their TV content for free on their phones. Obviously you can’t please everyone, but it’s pretty obvious by the stock price and from better-than-industry-average subscriber numbers that it was the right decision.