AT&T may still be looking at a satellite TV acquisition to bolster its weak pay-TV presence.
The company has approached DirecTV about a potential acquisition, the Wall Street Journal reports. The news follows years of speculation around AT&T and potential satellite acquisitions — it has reportedly been interested in Dish Network for its wireless spectrum.
The deal would make sense for both companies: AT&T currently has around 5.7 million TV customers for its U-Verse service, while DirectTV is the nation’s second-biggest premium TV provider, with 20 million customers. An acquisition would give AT&T a boost in the TV space, and it would tie DirecTV to an established Internet provider. (DirecTV already offers satellite Internet, but its slow speeds and high latency don’t compete well with solutions like cable and fiber Internet access.)
As the WSJ notes, an acquisition would likely be worth DirecTV’s current $40 billion market cap at a minimum.
Naturally, AT&T isn’t commenting on the reports. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see the company attempt a satellite acquisition soon. With the potential merger of Comcast and Time Warner pending, AT&T needs to boost its TV business quickly.
A deal between AT&T and DirecTV would still need to pass regulatory clearance, but there’s a good chance it would be approved since it involves combining companies from two separate communications industries. The Comcast and Time Warner deal, on the other hand, faces a tough approval process since it would consolidate an already monopolistic cable industry.