AT&T Reportedly Eyeing DirecTV For $40B Buyout

AT&T is said to be in talks with DirecTV about the possibility of a merger — perhaps to compete with Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
Posted at 2:38 PM, May 01, 2014

AT&T is said to be interested in snapping up DirecTV with a purchase price of at least $40 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the possible merger, which sources say would combine DirecTV's 20 million television subscribers with AT&T’s 5.7 million.

And yes, it does sound familiar. AT&T and DirecTV reportedly started talking right after Comcast announced its own planned absorption of Time Warner Cable. (Via CNBC)

"Watch the action with Comcast and Time Warner. That $40 billion pricetag for AT&T and DirecTV, that about equates right now to what the value of the Comcast-Time Warner deal is." (Via Fox Business)

BGR suggests AT&T could be looking to respond to that megamerger by orchestrating one of its own.

"Such a deal would instantly propel AT&T … to being the No. 2 provider in a post-Comcast/TWC merger world. Should Comcast's acquisition fall through, a DirecTV deal would make AT&T the top pay TV provider in the country."

And Digital Trends says if AT&T then bundled satellite TV with its broadband and phone offerings, "That's a competitive advantage that satellite television companies have failed to match."

But that advantage might also throw a wrench in the gears: DirecTV offers television service, as well as some broadband and domestic phone plans through partners. AT&T offers all three natively through its U-verse program. Sources tell The Wall Street Journal consolidating them all might be enough to trigger antitrust concerns during FCC review, especially if it deprived consumers of a competitive market environment.

And if a deal does go through — especially in response to one by Comcast and Time Warner — industry watchers worry about what the new marketplace will look like.

"In the event that both buyouts are approved, we'd have two massive companies with national footprints and dominant marketshare in the cable and satellite TV business, respectively." (Via The Verge)

Of course, if there's anything to this rumor, AT&T will have to make its case in front of the FCC and then get in line — since the commission has yet to wave through Comcast's deal with Time Warner.