Q. I read that AT&T is going to shut down DIRECTV and go to an all-streaming business. Is that true? And if so, what will happen to my satellite dish service under DIRECTV? Wil it continue to work? — Davey, Big Spring, Texas.
Davey, AT&T is not shutting down DIRECTV, at least not anytime soon. The satellite service has more than 17 million subscribers who pay anywhere between $81 a month for the Select package to $189 a month for the Premier plan. (Those are the non-promotional prices, which go into effect next month.) Despite accelerating programming costs, and other expenses, that still makes DIRECTV a very profitable business.
But that said, AT&T doesn’t plan to launch any new satellites because it is seeking to transform its TV business to an all-streaming one, which would be less expensive to operate. In February 2020, the company will go nationwide with a new online edition of DIRECTV called AT&T TV, and AT&T hopes that many current satellite customers will switch to streaming.
But it could take years to convert even a large portion of the current DIRECTV audience. And if AT&T tries to accelerate the switch by shutting down the satellite business, it’s likely many of its satellite subscribers would balk and switch to other pay TV providers such as their local cable service. Or they may decide to cut the cord entirely.
AT&T, which has lost nearly a net of 3 million DIRECTV subscribers since it purchased the satcaster in 2015, can’t afford to lose any more. It has to carry out the transformation very carefully.
So Davey, DIRECTV is not going away today or tomorrow. But you could argue that its days are numbered.
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— Phillip Swann