Does AT&T Want Out Of TV?


Q. I don’t understand what AT&T is doing with DIRECTV or U-verse, either. They raise prices. They stop selling it in some places. It makes no sense to me. It doesn’t seem like they really want to be in the TV business even though they paid all that money for DIRECTV. What’s the deal with them and TV? Do they want out of the TV business? — Cliff, Dallas. 

Cliff, the answer is yes and no. AT&T wants to be in the TV business, but also doesn’t. Let me explain.

AT&T paid $49 billion to purchase DIRECTV in 2015. But since then, DIRECTV has lost roughly five million subscribers, and it’s clear that AT&T doesn’t believe satellite TV, or the traditional TV business as a whole, has a future. That’s also why AT&T has stopped taking new customer orders for U-verse, its other traditional pay TV business.

While AT&T claims publicly it still values DIRECTV, that doesn’t pass the smell test because the company has decided to stop marketing the satcaster outside of select rural and suburban markets. Despite the massive investment in 2015, the company believes that DIRECTV is powerless to thwart the growing interest in cord-cutting and streaming.

Rumors are flying that AT&T is looking to sell DIRECTV and it wouldn’t surprise me if a deal is consummated by year’s end, most likely with Dish.

AT&T will never admit it, but I strongly believe the company rues the day it decided to buy DIRECTV.

But that doesn’t mean it wants out of the TV business.

In fact, AT&T wants to be a leader in the ‘new tv’ business, which consists of on-demand programming available via streaming on multiple devices, from your television to your smart phone to your tablet. That’s the motivation behind AT&T’s major investment in HBO Max, the new online version of HBO.

The company believes that today’s consumers are no longer wed to watching television at specific times with the occasional exception of live sports. In AT&T’s view, it makes more sense to supply a massive library of programming that allows the viewer to decide what to watch and when.

The traditional TV business is broken, says AT&T.

(It’s also no coincidence that many ‘new TV’ companies prefer the on-demand, streaming approach because it’s significantly less expensive than the traditional TV distribution method, such as satellite or cable infrastructure. If streaming was more expensive, you can bet that companies such as AT&T would still be investing heavily in cable and satellite.)

AT&T is transitioning from traditional TV to the ‘new TV’ as fast as humanely possible. That’s why I predict that in the next 12 months, it will:

* Close U-verse
* Close AT&T TV Now, which provides the traditional live channel lineup online.
* Close AT&T TV, its new live channel streaming service that is designed to be a DIRECTV alternative.

AT&T will jettison all traditional TV products and concentrate solely on on-demand and streaming.

Of course, AT&T will continue to license live channels such as HBO, TNT and TBS to existing cable and satellite services. But it will no longer be the company that offers a live channel lineup to consumers for a monthly fee.

Cliff, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!

Need to buy something today? Please buy it using this link. This site receives a small portion of each purchase, which helps us continue to provide these articles.

Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at Please include your first name and hometown in your message.

Note: Pictured above is Friday Night Lights, one of the shows now available on Peacock. 

— Phillip Swann


8 comments on “Does AT&T Want Out Of TV?”

  1. That said, as a long time DirecTV sub…. Should I want to keep satellite programming, should I jump to Dish now? or just wait for the takeover?

  2. No way they get completely out of live TV streaming packages. The potential sale of DTV has been hinted for some time. No surprise. U-Verse shutting down has been announced. No surprise. AT&T TV Now will be partially merged into HBO Max. But once they remove the 2 year contract ATT TV will sell like hot cakes and there is no way they bail on this.

  3. DTV was fine until AT&T took over, that’s why most people left. I had been a DTV customer since 1997 and held out as long as I could but finally dropped out in March. I knew AT&T would ruin it with crappy customer service and price increases. There are many people that run as far away as possible when AT&T gets involved. Look at all the customer loss in all their acquisitions.

  4. I always get great deals when I tell them I want to cancel .you can get great deals if you want mine jumping
    through the hoops. I just got $80 off per month for the choice package for a year

  5. Been with them for over 15 years they are so stupid,they would not waive a install charge too keep me happy.because I didn’t want a dvr anymore.the said no so I said GOODBYE.

  6. The incompetency a “AT&T” is so novel and SO complete that is should be used to set the example of stupidity…AT&T has absolutely NO IDEA what they are doing and the ONLY reason they are in the game (temporarily) is that they HAD NO OTHER BUSINESS !
    They, for DECADES. RIPPED ppl off for traditional “land line” service and would STILL be dong it if the cellular business did not wipe OUT there land line business.
    They are:
    SELLING ASSETS (the FIRST SIGN of a FAILING business !!),
    their answer to everything is raise the price.
    AND, they have no work force to back up Anything they can think of because the skilled went to far better opportunities.
    Randal Stephenson was a complete moron and stanker is no better.
    EVEN WITH the BEST management AT&T has NOTHING to sell that will ever get near what they OWE.
    They borrowed money to pay dividends and are in total and complete desperation mode.
    THEY will, in all likelihood, end up BANKRUPT and deservedly too.
    After 40 years in the cable business I can assure you that AT&T will NOT be around in the same or IF at all.
    Ergan will “consider” buying at a FRACTION of what they paid for Directv and if the idiots at AT&T start to add “BAGGAGE” to the deal, Charlie will tell them the same thing any of you would…GO….yourselves !!!
    GOOD BYE AT&T sooner you DIE the better this country will be for it !!

    1. LOTS of truth in your statement.

      Stephenson is beyond Help.
      WHY do they keep this USELESS IDIOT around ??

      As to the Land Line business,
      IF they had keep the prices they always had,
      DUMP Long Distance Charges , like CELL Phones did.
      It might have survived.
      It is better to collect “something” Rather than NOTHING.

      Think about the $$$$$$ they have invested in their Infrastructure,
      The Buildings with the Electronic Switches, (Still work Fine)
      CABLING the Whole Country, (that was quite a feet)
      and the Finest Phone Company in the World.

      Now collecting Dust. Threw away the BIGGEST Customer Base,
      BELL LABS, Western Electric, an Unbelievable Work Force.
      ALL for being GREEDY and STUPID.

      If they had given Customers the choice to BUY their Phones,
      Let Competition share the wealth, they might have made it.

      You talk about a Back Fire, This was almost TOTAL Destruction.

      Anyone know a Better “CASH COW” than a Phone Company ?
      Install a phone, walk away, and COLLECT MONEY FOREVER.

      I know a LOT of people who would have keep their service.
      It is a REAL CONVENIENCE to have a phone in rooms you use a Lot.
      To go looking for a Cell Phone when someone calls is a PAIN.

      The incompetency of “AT&T” is:
      That is should be used to set the example of stupidity,
      is an EXCELLENT Comment.
      Their answer to everything is raise the price. YEA, That worked Great !!

      In the OLD Days, I worked for AT&T. They REALLY had it TOGETHER.

      I STILL say if they would Bring Customer Service BACK to the USA 100%
      and get NEW management, with a BRAIN. They might survive.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.