DirecTV, AT&T TV Raise Monthly Prices For New Customers

DirecTV Keeps Fox In Local Channel Fight

AT&T has reached a multi-year deal with Fox to allow DirecTV to offer the network’s programming in approximately 12 rural markets where the satcaster does not provide local channels.

AT&T, Fox Strike STELAR-Related Carriage Deal

AT&T has struck a multi-year deal with Fox to continue to deliver its TV stations via DirecTV after the sunset of the blanket license. AT&T said it has been negotiating with all the networks to continue to deliver signals to truckers, RVs and others after Congress passed a bill, the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization, that ended the blanket license June 1, requiring AT&T to negotiate individual deals if it wanted to continue to import distant network TV signals to markets and subs who lacked a local version.

NEWS ANALYSIS

Why AT&T Might Not Sell DirecTV

Last week’s Fox Business report that “bankers” are saying AT&T needs to sell DirecTV because it’s an ‘underperforming asset’ certainly rings true. Since AT&T purchased DIRECTV in 2015 for $49 billion, the nation’s top satellite TV service has lost roughly five million subscribers. Making matters worse, the customer defections are dramatically increasing with each financial quarter. But there is one reason why AT&T might not sell. And it’s not because AT&T still sees value in the satcaster, which company executives suggest in half-hearted declarations to shareholders and financial analysts. No, the real reason why AT&T might not sell DirecTV is that no one might want to buy it.

Will AT&T Soon Sell DirecTV?

Bankers say AT&T needs to sell DIRECTV due to the coronavirus outbreak and accumulating company debt, according to a Fox Business report. The report does not name the bankers, nor say how many are offering this opinion. It also does not say if the bankers are communicating this position with AT&T, or if AT&T is accepting the verdict that it’s time to unload the nation’s top satellite TV service.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Retiring

It’s a changing of the guard at AT&T, which revealed Friday that CEO Randall Stephenson is retiring and chief operating officer John Stankey will take the top job as of July 1. The move was announced at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders. Stephenson, 60, and chairman-CEO for the past 13 years, will serve as executive chairman of the board of directors until January to ensure a smooth transition.

QUARTERLY REPORT

AT&T Misses 1Q Revenue Estimates

AT&T’s first quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street expectations and the company pulled its annual forecast on Wednesday, as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak overshadowed strong growth in monthly phone subscribers. It also lost 897,000 so-called premium TV subscribers, which includes its satellite TV provider DirecTV and a small number of U-Verse users as more consumers cut cords amid the pandemic.

AT&T To Shutter Audience Network On May 22

AT&T Investors Denied A Dial-In As Annual Meeting Goes Online

AT&T Stops Selling U-verse TV

The telco is prioritizing its new internet-net-based pay TV platform, AT&T TV and has stopped selling its 14-year-old IPTV pay TV platform, U-verse TV.

Charter Licenses Dodgers RSN To AT&T

Charter Communications and AT&T have finally reached an agreement on the latter’s carriage of regional sports network SportsNet LA, breaking an impasse that started in 2014.

AT&T Scraps $4B Share Repurchase Plan

AT&T has decided to forgo its $4 billion accelerated share repurchase plan, citing the coronavirus pandemic as a time to “to maintain flexibility and focus on continued investment in serving our customers, taking care of our employees and enhancing our network, including nationwide 5G.”

AT&T Mulls Bids For RSNs, Says CFO

AT&T CFO John Stephens on Tuesday told an investors conference that an auction to sell four regional sports networks to reduce overall debt is nearing a possible buyer and conclusion. “We have had on the market our regional sport networks and we’re looking at the potential for those,” Stephens said.

AT&T Sells Quickplay To Firstlight Media

AT&T’s New Streamer Debuts Today

AT&T TV will have most of the same channels offered on the company’s shrinking DirecTV, but it’ll come over the internet rather than a satellite dish. AT&T has been testing the service in 13 markets and is now making it available to anyone.

AT&T’s RSN Auction Coming Up Short

AT&T’s auction to sell four regional sports networks appears to be faltering — the latest sign that the business of airing local sports is in trouble as Americans continue to cut their ties with cable. The wireless giant has received multiple bids for its group of four sports channels covering markets around Seattle, Denver, Pittsburgh and Houston — but all of them came in around or below $500 million for the lot, significantly short of expectations estimated to be around $1 billion.

Is AT&T Setting Up A Warner Sibling Rivalry?

As WarnerMedia’s streamer HBO Max preps for a May launch, a new film division will become a direct pipeline — and could spark awkward internal politics.

Comcast’s Bad Omen For AT&T

Cord-cutting isn’t stopping. As it turns out, that’s not such bad news for cable giants like Comcast Corp. It is, however, for AT&T Inc.

What You Need To Know About 5G In 2020

After years of hype, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are giving consumers clarity on what their next-generation cellular networks will realistically do.

Hearst Reaches Deal With DirecTV, AT&T

At AT&T spokesman said a new retransmission consent agreement was reached Sunday, and stations are returning to DirecTV and AT&T in time for the NFL Playoffs and Golden Globes, among other programming.

AT&T Sets 2020 DirecTV, U-Verse Price Hikes

AT&T, which is trying to chip away at its large debt load and manage through a period of secular decline in its traditional pay TV businesses, has set a round of price hikes at DirecTV and U-verse. Beginning Jan. 19, 2020, some customers of the satellite and cable outlets will see their monthly packages rise by $1 to $8 a month depending on the tier.

DMA 28: NASHVILLE

AT&T, WNAB Set Retrans Agreement

AT&T reached a renewal of its retransmission agreement with Nashville License Holdings, which owns the CW affiliate in Nashville, lifting a six-month blackout and ending a dispute that affected a dozen stations that operate under shared service agreements with Sinclair Broadcast Group.

AT&T Stock Drops On Analyst Downgrade

AT&T’s stock ended its steady march higher Tuesday, dropping nearly 3% after respected Wall Street analyst Craig Moffett downgraded the telecom and media giant’s shares and called its pay-TV unit a “cancer.”

Sony Buys Out AT&T Stake In Game Show Network

RETRANS

Howard Stirks Holdings, AT&T In Retrans Deal

Station owner Howard Stirks Holdings has settled its retrans dispute with AT&T and replaced its negotiating agent. The stations at issue, WEYI Flint-Saginaw, Mich., and WWMB Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C., had been off DirecTV since June.

FCC Orders Stations To Negotiate With AT&T

The FCC today ordered nine TV station groups linked to Sinclair Broadcast Group to return to the negotiating table with AT&T’s DirectTV after some consumers have been without access to 20 stations for five months.

HBO Max To Launch In May For $15

The company has said HBO Max will become the “workhorse” for its video business as cord-cutting of traditional TV expands. It hopes to migrate people who pay for HBO in different ways today to the new platform. The service grew out of AT&T’s $81 billion purchase of Time Warner, which AT&T overhauled and rechristened WarnerMedia.

AT&T Changes Spurred By Activist Investor Push

The company is looking for assets it can sell off to pay down its Time Warner acquisition, while CEO Randall Stephenson will stay on through 2020.

AT&T Hikes Online TV Prices Again

Notices are going out this week telling about 1.3 million customers of AT&T Inc. that prices are rising as much as 30% starting next month. Subscribers who were paying $50 a month for the “Plus” package will see prices climb to $65, while those paying $70 for the 65-channel “Max” package will be charged $80 a month. It’s the second price hike this year and highlights what has been AT&T’s top priority — to widen margins and reduce a debt load that ballooned to as much as $195 billion after the acquisitions of DirecTV and TimeWarner.

RETRANS

Sinclair Reaches Retrns Deal With AT&T

The new carriage contract covers Sinclairs O&Os plus the Tennis Channel, Marquee Sports Network, 21 regional sports networks and the YES Network.

RETRANS

DirecTV, Northwest Settle Retrans Dispute

AT&T and Northwest Broadcasting say they’ve ended their nearly eight-month old carriage fight, which means 20 Northwest-owned stations in 10 markets can now return to the AT&T-owned DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV Now.

RETRANS

Sinclair Stations Remain On AT&T MVPDs

Sinclair stations remained on AT&T’s U-Verse and DirecTV distribution platforms past the 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, deadline. A source said Sinclair, which ultimately controls the signals, had provided the extension. It was not clear for how long.

AT&T Gives Hill Its Take On Sinclair Impasse

As a blackout looms with the current retransmission consent impasse between Sinclair and AT&T — Sinclair is warning DirecTV and U-Verse customers the stations (136 stations in 86 markets) could be off those AT&T-owned MVPDs by Sept. 27 — AT&T is framing the impasse for legislators concerned about their constituent/viewers as a still-ongoing negotiation with AT&T, not surprisingly, “on the side of the customer.”

AT&T’s COO: DirecTV Not Going Anywhere

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that AT&T COO John Stankey, in defending the company’s strategy in the media business, says it doesn’t plan to sell its DirecTV unit, viewing the satellite TV provider as central to its ambitions in streaming video. “DirecTV is an important part of what we’re going to be doing going forward.” Last week, the Journal reported that AT&T was looking to unload the unit in the face of declining subscribership.

RETRANS

Disney, AT&T Reach Retrans Agreement

The Walt Disney Co. reached an agreement in principle Friday evening on a new retransmission consent and carriage deal with AT&T that would  keep networks including ABC, ESPN and the Disney Channel glowing in homes with DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV Now. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sinclair Warns Of Blackout With AT&T Outlets

Sinclair Broadcast Group is warning that millions of subscribers to AT&T’s pay TV services could be blacked out on Sept. 27 unless a new carriage agreement is reached. Sinclair said its agreement with AT&T was set to expire in August and that it gave AT&T a five-week extension.

DirecTV Sale Scenarios Heat Up

AT&T, which paid $49 billion to acquire DirecTV in 2015, has faced increasing pressure from investors to get the satellite distributor on a more promising path. This week, the notion that the companies could part ways has gained currency.

AT&T Sued Over DirecTV Now Subs

A class action suit has been filed alleging that AT&T pumped up the sub count for its DirecTV Now streaming service (since rebranded to AT&T TV Now) to mask “serious technical problems due to premature roll-out.”

NAB Calls AT&T STELAR Message ‘Misleading’

The association’s CEO Gordon Smith says: “DirecTV is doing a serious disservice to both its customers and to Congress by running these misleading messages. We urge you to reconsider … and to work with local broadcasters to ensure that all DirecTV customers receive their network programming from local TV affiliates.”

RETRANS

AT&T Losing 300,000 Subs Over Blackouts

After lengthy blackouts of CBS and Nexstar stations, plus the impact of price increases, AT&T expects to lose about 300,000 to 350,000 subscribers in the quarter, CFO John Stephens said Wednesday.