In the mid and late 2010s, AT&T was doubling down on TV by buying up TV companies. One of the first big deals was DIRECTV, but now DIRECTV is less than half the size it was when it was purchased in 2015. Because of this, AT&T has offloaded DIRECTV in an effort to limit its damage but still owns about 70% of the company.
According to the most recent numbers, AT&T’s DIRECTV unit, which includes all of its TV services, including streaming, is down to just 13.3 million, according to a report from Seeking Alpha. This is down from 25.47 million when AT&T purchased DIRECTV back in 2015.
These numbers can be deceiving though, as AT&T is now lumping streaming into them, making it hard to know the exact number of DIRECTV satellite customers who have canceled their service. The question is, how many of DIRECTV’s customers are on traditional TV services like satellite or U-Verse TV vs. DIRECTV Stream?
Last year AT&T spun off DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream, and U-Verse TV into its own company AT&T owns 70% of and TPG owns 30%. Because of this, AT&T no longer has to report subscriber numbers. So sadly, we won’t get an updated subscriber count later this month when AT&T announces its 4th quarter 2022 numbers.
DIRECTV wasn’t the only troubled TV deal for AT&T. In 2018, after a long fight with the DOJ for the right to buy Time Warner, AT&T finally closed the deal after winning its court case. Less than four years later, AT&T would sell Time Warner, now called WarnerMedia, to Discovery.
The question now is, what does the future hold for DIRECTV? Even with streaming, subscriber numbers have continued to drop. In the past, DIRECTV could offer bundle deals with AT&T services to drive up subscribers. Now DIRECTV no longer has AT&T’s huge customer base to pull from by offering bundle deals with AT&T’s internet and wireless services. This all leaves DIRECTV as one of the most variable TV companies out there with no internet services, home phone, or even wireless service to help offset the losses in its TV business.
We will have to wait and see what happens to DIRECTV as it fights the ever-growing tide of cord cutting.