Not to add too many more metaphors to this little narrative, but the U.S. satellite TV business seems to have reached the "Donner Party" stage, with the shriveling DirecTV platform looking for customers the only place left to look--the other fast-shrinking U.S. satellite TV service.
Visit AT&T's DirecTV landing page today and you'll see a promo offering current Dish Network customers a $150 Visa gift card if they switch over to DirecTV and commit to a two-year contract. (Hat tip to longtime satellite TV biz reporter Philip Swann for first noticing this.)
The offer applies to DirecTV satellite TV and not the IP-based DirecTV Stream.
AT&T recently spun off DirecTV, as well as its IP-based AT&T TV pay TV service (now called DirecTV Stream), into a separate company called DirecTV and jointly owned by private equity firm TPG. AT&T still owns the bulk of its "premium TV" assets, but it no longer has to report their dwindling subscriber numbers each quarter.
AT&T's premium TV platforms collectively lost 473,000 customers in the second quarter, most of them coming on the satellite TV side. Dish Network lost 132,000 customers in Q2.
In the end, Dish customers who take the bait could end up on the same platform. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen continues in each earnings report to describe a merger among the two U.S. satellite TV companies as "inevitable." In fact, during Dish's Q2 call over the summer, he said it was only being delayed by a "timing issue."
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