AT&T's DirecTV reportedly considering merger with Dish satellite

DirecTV has been hemorrhaging customers, with AT&T considering selling off or merging the unit with Dish Network, according to Reuters.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert
2 min read
In this photo illustration the DirecTV Now logo is seen

DirecTV Now had 1.5 million subscribers at the end of March.

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Satellite TV provider Dish Network is reportedly considering a merger with AT&T's DirecTV service.

AT&T and Dish have no active deal talks ongoing, however, Reuters reported Friday.

Dish Network's spectrum holdings -- it has been hoarding spectrum for years but has yet to build out its own satellite network -- could also be a valuable acquisition for AT&T as it rolls out its 5G network.

Back in 2017, Dish Network spent $6.2 billion for even more spectrum in the 600MHz band.

The rumors follow reports on Thursday that AT&T could spin off the DirecTV business, with Dish Network tipped to buy it.

AT&T's DirecTV has been losing customers amid competition with streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Prime. In April, DirecTV reported a quarterly loss of 83,000 subscribers on its streaming service, which followed a loss of 267,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2018.

DirecTV Now finished 2018 with 1.6 million subscribers; at the end of March, it had 1.5 million.

Also during the first quarter of 2019, AT&T lost 544,000 traditional pay TV subscribers from its DirecTV satellite business and its AT&T U-verse services. As of April, it had 22.4 million TV subscribers in total.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in April said he expects to continue losing pay TV subscribers next quarter, but for losses to stabilize by the end of 2019. He added that the recent $10 price hike to $50 per month for DirecTV Now makes the product more "sustainable."

"Make no mistake about it, this segment of the market is very price-sensitive," he said.

Dish and AT&T didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the end of last month, AT&T also said it would be adding Locast, an app that streams local broadcaster TV for free, to DirecTV and U-Verse starting June.

Locast provides access to local broadcast stations, including ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX, to customers with broadband-connected receivers. It's available across New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, Boston, Denver and Baltimore.

First published at 1:31 p.m. PT on June 7.  
Updated on June 17 at 3:00 p.m. PT: adds info on Locast

Watch this: Why you should say no to DirecTV Now