Phillip Swann, editor of TV Answer Man, and the former editor of TVPredictions.com, is making several predictions for what will happen in the TV technology industry in 2022. His second prediction: Will longtime satellite rivals DIRECTV and Dish merge?
Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has said frequently that a merger between his company and DIRECTV is “inevitable.” Ergen notes that both satellite TV services have lost a significant number of subscribers over the last several years and that the growth of streaming will undoubtedly trigger even more defections. By combining, the two services could reduce expenses, create more leverage in carriage negotiations, and focus on new technologies that could limit future subscriber losses.
So with the satellite industry in decline, what’s stopping this ‘inevitable’ and seemingly necessary merger?
Well, they actually did try to merge once two decades ago, but the FCC rejected the deal on the grounds that it would be anti-competitive. And even today with the advance of streaming, federal regulators might be leery of combining the two satcasters because it would limit choice in rural areas where access to high-speed Internet is limited.
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But the federal government recently passed President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure initiative which includes $65 billion for broadband expansion, particularly in those rural markets. This should alleviate some concerns at the FCC and Department of Justice.
Another apparent obstacle has been friction between Ergen and the AT&T executives who once ran DIRECTV. Ergen, arguably the industry’s toughest negotiator, can be difficult to deal with, particularly in a tense merger negotiation. (Just ask Rupert Murdoch who saw his attempt to merge with Dish collapse at the last minute when Ergen butted heads with a top Murdoch executive.)
But AT&T this year sold 30 percent of DIRECTV to private equity firm, TPG, and the satellite TV service is now run by a separate group (albeit former AT&T executives). With TPG’s influence in play, and AT&T in retreat, the environment is more favorable for Dish and DIRECTV to find common ground.
Consequently, I predict that DIRECTV and Dish will merge in 2022. I suspect it will not happen until the second half of the year. Both Dish and DIRECTV have some preparation work to do before moving forward. (By example, will DIRECTV secure at least a slice of the next Sunday Ticket contract, which would improve its value in Dish talks.) Plus, the Senate just a few weeks ago finally approved DOJ’s antitrust chief, Jonathan Kanter. It’s a little early to determine whether Kanter (and his yet to be named team) will be receptive to mergers or not.
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Kanter has been a critic of Big Tech, saying it’s become too powerful. This might prompt him to support a satellite merger which could create more competition for streaming services owned by Google and others. But it’s just speculation now. Until DIRECTV and Dish take the temperature of those reviewing a satellite merger, it’s premature to proceed.
Still, I think Dish and DIRECTV will ultimately engage in serious merger negotiations in 2022 (if they haven’t already done so in 2021) and seal the deal before year’s end. And if the merger is approved, which is likely, the combined companies would have (sub counts as of now) more than 20 million subscribers. (DIRECTV and its sister services, DIRECTV Stream and U-verse, have around 16 million while Dish now has 11 million, including Sling TV.)
Even with subscriber numbers declining thanks to streaming, this would allow the satellite TV industry to continue for years to come.
See Swanni’s first 2022 prediction: Who Will Get the NFL Sunday Ticket Deal?
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— Phillip Swann
I have been a Direct TV for 18 years and for the most part been happy with their product. Since Direct TV did not offer internet service or streaming I also have AT&T’s DSL, which over the years has become nothing more than two cans and a string that AT&T barely keeps running. Unfortunately, Direct TV and AT&T remained the best game in TV world for anyone living in a rural area, which meant streaming and fast internet was a dream to us.
However, the day has arrived that cable is knocking on my door with a TV package that includes TV and fiber internet that is 100 times faster than AT&T’s 4.1 internet speed. My biggest regret is Direct TV did not realize or didn’t react 8-10 years ago and start building a package that added fiber internet to their TV package that would have kept loyal customers like me buying their service. Their streaming package now being offered to non-Direct TV customers is idiotic since their current customer base would have signed up for streaming. The problem with the streaming package is the customer has to provide the internet connection, which leaves out most of their customer base like me, who have AT&T or a similar slow package, which explains why streaming service was not offered to their current customer base.
So, with great sadness I bid farewell to Direct TV who has the best TV package on the market.
If both merge, then you only have to worry about blackouts from one company since Charlie will be heading the new company! Tegna vs Dish is now 8 weeks old!
I started doing C-band dishes for “hi-rollers” in 1978, hence I have probably FORGOT more than “most experts” know about this business.
When the assclowns at AT&T bought DirecTV (Rupert laughed all the way to the bank with their check too !) it was in ACT THE EQUILIVENT of most who would win the lottery and then buy a lear jet and “THINK” they can fly it !!
YES of course hand the keys to your Lambo over to a bunch of hard up desperate drug users !!.(I digress)
I started (and in fact HELPED) ol “Charlie” get where he is today because we purchased a LOT of our C-band eq. from his Pittsburg, PA. then distributor.
Now I COULD write a book on the antics that have played out but, I believe I would be the only one who read it LOL.
Charlie has MORE MONEY than he can spend in 4 lifetimes.
Suffice it to say this is NOT about “more income”.
Maybe or not he has learned that there has NEVER been enough MONEY since the invention of MONEY that will FEED AN EGO. So then WHY would ANY competent business man consider buying what is left of an almost dead cow ?
All Charlie has to do is WAIT until what is left of Directv DIES and then since HE will be the ONLY one to drift to for the hillbilliys that still actually watch OLD moldy TV, he wins !!
HE doesn’t have to lift a FINGER because SATELLITE TV is DEAD. With uncle Sam PUSHING for broadband to ALL (including the hilljacks) then it will only be a question of time before even DISH will struggle. Couple THAT with the ga-ZILLION new side stream services of the FREE TO AIR b casters and the FUTURE of OLD RERUNS and half ass “sports” games is definitely in LIMBO.
NOW, you “experts” sitting in your rockers that have the IQ of a HOUSPLANT can “attempt” to retort my statements but you well know that your mothers di in fact drop you on your head WAY too much as a child to be taken seriously by ANY that also see my points.
CHARLIE is most likely DIVERTING ATTENTION to the SATELLITE GAME because HE is heavily investing in WIRLESS BB and so the less examination in that field the better for his game plan.
CLOWN T&T has committed to N-O-T launching ANY new sats and the ONLY one left to do so would be CHARLIE.
CLOWN T&T is also blatantly skating AROUND the GOVT. ( ya fools at TPG good luck with that one), and IF Discovery does aquire (STILL HAS TO PASS MUSTER) Warner Media (content that is already growing mold !) then Charlie will have to comit to zillions to launch new sats OR pull the plug on satellite.
The FCC will doubtless find OTHER use for those frequencies too.
Now TV guy can make all the prediction he likes (it is still a free country) BUT the reality is far far far from OVER !!
As for what is left of AT&T (the inventors of the DROPPED CALL btw) they will and have N-O-T-H-I-N-G left to “SELL” that will even remotely replace the OVER 150 BILLION they LOST when the Fup “STEPHENSON” opened the floodgate of disaster there)
For those following clownT&T, STEPHENSON was “forced” into “Retirment” (and paid 3 mill a YEAR for the idiot that he was) and OF ALL PLACES WALMART hired the idiot as their new CEO (Walton is rolling in his GRAVE !!)… SO BOTTOM LINE ?
I DO N-O-T see ANY movement of DISH to even remotely be interested in further development of Direct to HOME SATELLITE TV…
AHA! You really ARE Charlie! I’m not surprised! LOLOL
Sir, this is a Wendy’s.
If the two companies merge, and Charlie runs them both the way he runs Dish, he will lose a ton of Directv subscribers the first time he creates a channel blackout. One positive about DTV is that it has very few channel blackouts while Dish seems like it is an everyday event. I have had DTV for over 20 years but will switch to Verizon FIOS TV in a heartbeat if Charlie pulls this nonsense post merger.
I don’t think I have to tell you what Ergan thinks about your position now do I ?