For years there have been talks of a possible DIRECTV and DISH merger. Recently a possible merger between DIRECTV and DISH looks a little more realistic. Much like how XM and Sirius Radio merged to form SiriusXM Radio after it became clear both couldn’t survive on their own, now the same is being suggested for satellite TV services.
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So will DIRECTV and DISH merge?
The growth of cord cutting and AT&T spinning DIRECTV off into its own company creates conditions that could make the merger a reality. For years every attempt to merge the two TV services died over fears of it creating a monopoly. Now with cord cutting, there is real competition for your TV service, removing objections over competition fears as services like YouTube TV, Hulu, Philo, and fuboTV to name a few, offer real options.
DISH’s subscriber numbers are down to just 7.42 million subscribers. This is down from 14.1 million in the 1st quarter of 2014. DIRECTV no longer reports subscriber numbers but as of the end of 2022, it was estimated by Statista that DIRECTV was down to just 13.1 million subscribers. This is down from the 25.47 million DIRECTV had back in 2015.
Now that the fears over a possible monopoly are over, DISH is openly talking about a merger. During the 3rd quarter of 2022 earnings, Dish’s Chairman Charlie Ergen when asked about the possible merger said now “that election cycle is over next week. And then you have a window, where I think all companies are looking at M&A.” Ergen went on to say “If the timing was right, it would be in the near term, not the longer term.”
Clearly, there are a lot of issues to work out and reports say DISH has been the main hold-up as they reportedly are asking for control over the new company.
The question now is would AT&T be on board with a possible DIRECTV and DISH merger. Last week during AT&T’s 1st quarter earnings call AT&T’s CEO was asked about a possible merger. “That’s just not something we typically speculate on,” AT&T’s CEO John Stankey said when asked about a possible merge during AT&T’s 1st quarter results. “I’ve never really commented on my point of view of what the calculus is and the combination of DIRECTV and DISH, and I don’t expect to do that today,”
This leaves many to wonder what exactly AT&T is thinking of when it comes to a possible DIRECTV and DISH merger.
The growth of internet options like SpaceX’s Starlink service means Americans who in the past didn’t have the internet to stream TV, now have options to do just that. Because of that, the need to have DISH and DIRECTV as competitors is no longer what it once was.
Clearly, if a merger is to happen it likely needs to happen soon. Both sides are facing the very real issue that the need for satellite TV is not what it once was. Even scarier is soon there may be many other options for rural Americans to watch TV that don’t require DIRECTV or DISH.
So the question seems to be can the two companies come to an agreement on the terms before both companies decide a merger is just not worth it? For now, we will have to wait and see.