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AT&T reportedly considers offloading its DirecTV satellite unit

The deal hasn't worked out as well as planned.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
09.18.19 in AV
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Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

AT&T made much ado of its $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV, but it's apparently having second thoughts just a few years later. Wall Street Journal sources claim the telecom is considering "parting" the DirecTV satellite unit through a number of means, including a spinoff as a separate public company or even a merger of its assets with rival provider Dish. There's no guarantee anything will happen, the WSJ said, but the mere act of considering a split is notable.

AT&T declined to comment. CFO John Stephens previously said that merging DirecTV and Dish would be unlikely "from a regulatory perspective."

While the reasoning for such a move wasn't available as we wrote this, it's no secret that DirecTV has been bleeding customers for a while, even in its promising DirecTV Now (changed to AT&T TV Now) streaming service. Combined, AT&T's TV services lost 938,000 subscribers in the spring quarter alone. While DirecTV still contributes a substantial amount to AT&T's bottom line, its future doesn't look good in an era when more and more people are ditching conventional TV.

AT&T has also been reducing its dependence on DirecTV for a while. Between AT&T TV Now, HBO Max, Watch TV and the upcoming AT&T TV, viewers won't be hurting for streaming choices. The carrier might not miss DirecTV if it can rack up enough online subscribers.

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