Say Goodbye To DirecTV Now

Later this summer, AT&T will retire the name of the over-the-top TV service, first launched in December 2016, which will be rebranded “AT&T TV Now.” The change comes as the telco plans to launch test pilots in select markets of a new internet-streaming TV service called AT&T TV. Both the AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now services will be accessed through the same AT&T TV app on either mobile devices or connected TVs.

RETRANS | DMA 3: CHICAGO

WBBM Ratings Plunge From AT&T Blackout

As expected, the ongoing impasse between CBS and AT&T is wreaking havoc on WBBM’s already low ratings. The blackout of CBS 2 on DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse cable systems appears to have cost the CBS-owned station more than a quarter of its viewership.

Former BET Chairman Debra Lee Named To AT&T Board

Is CBS All Access Benefitting From AT&T Feud?

The network reported a “dramatic spike in new subscribers” to its CBS All Access streaming service last weekend, compared with the same weekend in 2018. It didn’t say it was due to the retrans impasse that has blackout out CBS stations on AT&T’s DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-Verse, but strongly implied it was in a press release. The release also contains other CBS talking points, including that AT&T has dropped 178 stations in 120 markets in 2019 because of its retrans recalcitrance.

AT&T: HBO Max To Offer Live News, Sports

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, speaking to securities analysts today, said the planned HBO OTT streaming service would “ultimately” be a full-service TV network with live news and sports. “Those are going to be really, really important elements for HBO Max.” The service is set to launch next spring.

 

AT&T: Bid-Ask On CBS Retrans Deal Not Wide

On an earnings call today, Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson suggested the two companies are not that far apart on terms that would make CBS stations available again for approximately 6.6 million subscribers to the company’s DirecTV or U-verse services. “The bid-ask candidly is not that wide, but it’s kind of an interesting dynamic,” he said. “We sent…[what] was a reasonable, fair offer over five days ago, and that’s been crickets. We haven’t heard anything.”

AT&T Sheds Nearly 1M Pay TV Subs In Q2

The company, which is engaged in retrans war with broadcasters, posted a net loss of 778,000 “premium video” subscribers, most of whom subscribe to DirecTV, and shed 168,000 streaming DirecTV Now accounts. Chief Executive Randall Stephenson earlier this year told investors the company expects to keep losing pay-TV customers through 2019 as it cut backs on promotions.

CBS Goes Dark On DirecTV, DirecTV Now

Unable to reach on agreement with CBS on programming fees, AT&T early Saturday morning dropped CBS’s broadcast and cable programming from its TV distribution services — DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-Verse, according to CBS. “While CBS has made every effort to avoid this blackout, we won’t agree to terms that undervalue our hit programming enjoyed by nearly 240 million viewers across all dayparts last season,” the network said.

AT&T: CBS Tried To Up-Sell Subs To All Access

Amid AT&T’s carriage battle with CBS stations, the telecom accused CBS of trying to up-sell pay TV subs to its own All Access service. The current contract between AT&T-owned DirecTV and CBS stations in 14 markets expires at midnight Friday.

RETRANS

AT&T, Nexstar Meet But Blackout Goes On

Executives from AT&T and Nexstar Media Group met over the weekend, but the nearly two-week long blackout of about 120 stations continues. The talks continue but there has been no agreement yet, according to an AT&T spokesperson. Negotiations will continue this week, a Nexstar spokesman added.

AT&T Sues Max Retrans Over Confidential Data

AT&T has sued Max Retrans, a consultant that works with TV stations negotiating with distributors, claiming it used confidential data to get higher fees for its clients. In U.S. Court in St. Louis, AT&T said it is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, including inflated retransmission consent fees, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and court costs.

Nexstar Disputes AT&T Retrans Claims

The broadcaster says AT&T/DirecTV’s actions contrast sharply with its public commentary and cites eight broadcast groups currently without carriage resulting in a loss of service to consumers in 13 U.S. markets.

Zeiler Named Interim AT&T Ad Sales Head

In a shakeup of what was once Turner’s ad sales division, former Turner International head Gerhard Zeiler has been named interim president of the ad sales operation at AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit.

RETRANS

More Legislators Call For Nexstar, AT&T Resolution

Legislators continued to turn up the heat in the ongoing retransmission consent battle between DirecTV and Nexstar Media Group, with representatives from seven states joining Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday in sending letters to DirecTV parent AT&T urging for an end to the blackout as it entered its fifth day.

RETRANS

AT&T-DirecTV Subs Lose Nexstar Stations

Many DirecTV and AT&T U-verse subs awoke Thursday to find that Nexstar stations were no longer available. The broadcaster claims the stations were “abruptly removed” by the distributor, while AT&T said it had hoped to prevent a blackout and “even offered Nexstar more money to keep their stations available.”

AT&T Considering Selling RSNs

AT&T Inc. is weighing a sale of its regional sports networks as part of a plan to cut as much as $8 billion in debt by the end of the year, according to people familiar with the matter. Sinclair Broadcast Group, which agreed in May to buy 21 Fox regional sports networks from Disney for $9.6 billion, could be among the potential buyers, the people said.

AT&T Donates $500,000 To Locast

Locast, the free TV station streaming service, has gotten a big financial boost from AT&T, which said Thursday it was contributing a half a million dollars to the service’s nonprofit parent, the Sports Fans Coalition New York.

AT&T Files ‘Bad Faith’ Retrans Complaint

On behalf of DirecTV, DirecTV Now or U-Verse, AT&T has filed a complaint against nine TV station owners who it says have collectively “pulled” 20 stations from those services on May 30 and June 10, blackouts it says continued at press time “with no end in sight.” AT&T said all the stations have shared services agreements with Sinclair, which it says appears to “manage and control” the stations, but it did not target that broadcaster in the complaint.

DirecTV And Dish Said To Be Open To Merging

AT&T Inc.’s DirecTV and Dish Network Corp., suffering the steepest subscriber losses in the pay-TV industry, are open to a merger and both companies believe such a deal could pass muster with U.S. regulators, according to people familiar with their thinking.

AT&T Eyes $16-$17-a-Month Streaming Service

The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia is discussing plans to package HBO, sister channel Cinemax and its vast Warner Bros. TV and movie library into a streaming service costing between $16 and $17 a month, according to people familiar with the matter, a strategy aimed at keeping the media giant competitive against lower-priced offerings in a crowded field. Journal subscribers can read the full story here.

Trump Urges AT&T Boycott Over CNN Coverage

President Donald Trump has just arrived in the United Kingdom for a multi-day diplomatic visit to America’s longest and strongest ally, and what is his first message upon arrival? Blasting CNN and making a strong suggestion of boycotting owner AT&T because of the cable network’s coverage.

AT&T’s Streaming Ambitions Hit Snag

The corporate home of Wonder Woman, Harry Potter and Friends weighs how its streaming service can compete on price with Disney, Netflix and Amazon.

AT&T’s SVoD Services Will Be Pay-TV Friendly

AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit will take direct aim at consumers with a coming set of OTT-delivered subscription VoD services, but pay-TV providers will also play an important role in their distribution.

QUARTERLY REPORT

DirecTV Now Loses Nearly 20% Of Subs

DirecTV Now, AT&T’s streaming video app, has seen sharp customer declines in recent months that all but wiped out a year’s worth of subscriber growth, according to the company’s latest earnings report.

Big Tech’s Shifting Lobbying Army

 Lines are blurring or becoming more stark among different tech, media and telecom companies. Telecom companies are producing content, while platform companies are exploring new services like internet connections. That means sectors are no longer staying in their lanes, and regulatory scrutiny is shifting.

White House Refuses To Share AT&T-TW Emails

Concerned that the White House may have influenced the Justice Department’s decision to try to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, Hill Democrats asked for any correspondence between the White House and Justice Department relating to merger. But the White House counsel declined, citing executive privilege.

AT&T Sells Its 9.5% Of Hulu For $1.4B

Hulu said Monday that AT&T sold its stake back to owners Disney and Comcast for $1.43 billion, valuing the unprofitable Hulu at $15 billion.

Maine Senators Diss Distant-Signal License

The Maine Senate delegation is calling out DirecTV and parent AT&T for importing TV station distant signals into Presque Isle, Maine, rather than delivering the local stations. Unlike cable operators, satellite operators don’t have to carry local TV stations, though if they carry one they must carry all. Presque Isle is one of a dozen of the smallest markets where DirecTV has chosen not to carry the stations.

AT&T And Viacom Reach Carriage Deal

After negotiating throughout the weekend, AT&T and Viacom announced Monday morning that they had reached an agreement to renew their carriage agreement. Details of the deal were not immediately available.

Viacom Goes To War With AT&T Over DirecTV

Viacom is blasting telco giant AT&T on several fronts as the companies wrestle over a carriage renewal deal that is vital to Viacom’s long-term financial health. As of Tuesday, Viacom had begun running crawls and promo spots on its channels warning viewers that Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, MTV and other channels could go dark on AT&T’s DirecTV as of midnight ET on Friday, when the current contract expires.

AT&T Raises DirecTV Now Prices

DirecTV Now used to start at $40 a month. The cheapest for new customers will now be $50. Packages will now include the AT&T-owned HBO, but the service is dropping some popular lifestyle and entertainment networks not owned by AT&T, including HGTV, Discovery, Food Network and MTV.

WarnerMedia’s CEO Salary Grows To $16.5M

WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey, who is overseeing AT&T’s takeover and integration of Time Warner, made $16.55 million in 2018, up 64% from $10.01 million a year before. In an SEC filing on Monday, AT&T also reported that CEO Randall Stephenson, whose giant telecommunications company also owns and runs DirecTV, saw his total compensation last year rise to $29.1 million, against a year-earlier $28.7 million.

AT&T Execs Personally Reassured Ted Turner His Legacy Will Be Maintained

Disney In Talks For AT&T’s Hulu Stake

Disney wants to get even more control over Hulu: The company is in active discussions with AT&T to acquire the 10% stake that WarnerMedia owns in the streaming joint venture.

AT&T TW Takeover Reshaped Media World

The combination of one of the country’s largest wireless carriers and TV providers with a major TV and movie company has already reshaped the media landscape. Here’s a look back at the deal, the pushback from the government and its future implications.

WarnerMedia Debuts Content Innovation Lab Fueled By AT&T Tech

AT&T To Advertise On YouTube Again

AT&T, one of the biggest advertisers in the U.S., had balked because offensive content too often accompanied its ads. Now, after nearly two years, it says YouTube has addressed the issue.

AT&T’s Turner, Xandr Integrate Data

AT&T’s Turner networks and advertising business Xandr said Tuesday they have begun using the wireless carrier’s customer data to help advertisers better reach audiences across Turner brands like CNN and TBS on TV and over digital platforms.

AT&T Launching Mobile 5G In 12 Cities

 

AT&T is activating its mobile 5G network in parts of 12 cities this week, with plans to add seven more cities in the first half of 2019. Consumers in the cities can try out the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot on the 5G network with AT&T supplying select consumers and businesses their first mobile 5G device and data usage an no cost for 90 days

AT&T: Ads Will Be Key To OTT Future

AT&T’s advertising unit, Xandr, will be at the center of its effort to transform the video advertising business. “Consumers clearly like the breadth of content that is available today. They like the choice. And a lot of that choice comes on the back of ad-supported models,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said.