AT&T/DirecTV Implosion Could Give Apple NFL Sunday Ticket

from the yeah-that-didn't-work dept

It’s really hard to overstate what a colossal failure AT&T’s $200 billion acquisition of Time Warner and DirecTV was. And if you’re an AT&T executive with a bruised ego in the wake of the implosion, the hits just keep on coming.

The megadeals were supposed to cement AT&T as a powerhouse in media and video advertising with HBO and the NFL as cornerstones. Instead, terrible leadership and hubris resulted in more than 50,000 layoffs, the closure of numerous loved brands (Mad Magazine, DC’s Vertigo imprint), the loss of millions of TV subscribers, and a mountain of debt AT&T’s still trying to climb its way out of.

Paying off that debt involved offloading a lot of acquired assets for a song. It has also involved AT&T spinning off DirecTV in a new partnership with private equity firm TPG Capital. One of DirecTV’s flagship properties has been the exclusive deal to distribute out of market NFL games via NFL Sunday Ticket.

But with that deal expiring in 2022, and DirecTV still hemorrhaging cash (not only from the megamerger spree but because of the continued pace of cord cutting), the rights will soon be up for auction. And two of the top suitors for the properties will be Apple or Disney:

Apple is exploring an audacious plan to scoop up the NFL’s available rights with a single, multibillion-dollar deal, sources tell Front Office Sports.

The NFL is currently fielding offers for three assets: an equity stake in NFL Media, the “NFL Sunday Ticket” package for out-of-market games, and livestreaming games on mobile devices. 

Apple wants to bundle them all into one sweeping deal, said sources. That would instantly make the tech giant, which has long avoided sports, one of the NFL’s biggest business partners. 

Again, AT&T’s entry into the media and video ad market was supposed to cement it as the preeminent name in media, sticking it to the traditional tech giants AT&T has long had a fraught relationship with. Instead, AT&T’s still scrambling to get its head above water and companies like Apple and Disney are becoming the very thing AT&T telecom executives dreamed they could be.

Not only does this deal probably bruise the ego of telecom executives that hungrily eyed media expansion but lacked the competency to execute, the broader, more competent distribution of live sports over the internet is likely to only accelerate the cord cutting shift away from traditional TV services (especially services like Dish and DirecTV, which will soon be on life support).

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Companies: apple, at&t, directv, disney, nfl

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Comments on “AT&T/DirecTV Implosion Could Give Apple NFL Sunday Ticket”

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discussitlive (profile) says:

Buy all that's unholy

These are my opinions

There are three corporations in the world that failed stupidly and miserably;
Sears, Radio Shack, AT&T = because they could never really figure out exactly what they were, what their markets were, who their customers were, exactly how to woo them to their brand, and/or exactly what business they were actually attempting to compete in. Watching them is akin to that cartoon of some guy in a rocket ship randomly slapping buttons, kicking levers, and twisting dials in a desperate attempt to accomplish… something.

Again, These are my opinions

There are many corporations that are simply evil. AT&T, Sony, Apple, ConAgra, ADM, John Deere, Apollo Group, Any national or world wide sports organization including The Olympics, NFL, NCAA, NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR, and too many others to list.

Fortunately, I weened myself from the utterly unnecessary world of “professional” sports and I don’t, frankly, give a fart in the wind about any of these utterly useless entertainment venues that stand only to profit the 1% at the cost of the general tax payer and their sports fans (I hold them in the same contempt I’m sure they hold me in). I don’t care if they sheer the sheep that are their fans; I do object to building at my tax expense their cathedrals of commerce that are their “sports” arenas.

So I’m singularity un-surprised to find the NFL, AT&T, and Apple in an incestuous bed for a romp in a Devils Triangle.

To paraphrase Forest Gump, “Evil is as Evil Does.”

danderbandit (profile) says:


I could be completely wrong, but it seems to me that Sears and Radio Shack failed because they didn’t know how to adapt to the internet. Strange for Sears as they started as a mail order catalog, the internet of that day. Not that they didn’t know what they were.

AT&T hasn’t ‘failed’ yet, as they are still an important player in Telecom. Although I sure wish they would hurry up and get on with it.

Anonymous Coward says:


AT&T did know what it wanted to be. This was before Congress destroyed it as the country’s largest telecommunication company, as people blamed it for higher prices which were actually the result of state transmission fees*.

Once it broke up, the “parent” AT&T was a shell of its former self. As the internet started to grow, AT&T tried to recapture the market share and provide service as an ISP.

Between the two services, some of the executives believed there was a way to expand to include both services.

They weren’t wrong, but the CEO at the time, Randall Stephenson, was a complete and utter moron, and is responsible for the current state of AT&T.

Stephenson’s goal was to rack up profits by over charging existing customers for anything service related. Wanted to stream? Pay up. Wanted On Demand? Pay up. Wanted all of it? Really pay up.

Stephenson wasn’t wrong about acquiring the media. He was wrong on how to implement it. In two swift actions, he alienated an entire industry from its customers, and helped drive the cord cutters, which affected Comcast as well.

Once Comcast customers saw what has happening with AT&T, they bailed before it could happen.

What should have happened:
Stephenson should have separated the media purchases into a new division under AT&T, run by people who weren’t cognitively restricted in the brain pan.

Hiring actual media consultants and experts, who could have integrated the media into AT&T’s telecom universe, could have happened seamlessly.

In fact, if AT&T had done it right, it could have very well been a leader in streaming media services today.

Stankey (and that name will never get old) never supported the vertical integration under Stephenson. He knew it was flawed the way Stephenson wanted to do it.

Stankey took over a sinking ship, and to right it, had no choice but to fire sale the bleeding assets before it took the company down.

Stankey believes AT&T can be a media company, but now has to reorganize to determine how to proceed.

With the financial losses, losing the NFL will definitely hurt, but I suspect he’s prepared to let it go since he has no platform or service to distribute it on, and more importantly, no one to broadcast it to.

Stephenson decimated AT&T. Only time will tell if Stankey can bring it back.

ECA says:

Re: Not smart

ATT and the others.
Jumped into this Feet first, from the beginning.
With all that the Major Phone corps got, they wanted all of it. Tier 1, got bought.
The Internet was running At full speed, and they could not catch up. They didnt see what was happening or the coming Future.
They controlled the Phone systems, the cellphone system, and A very large share of the cable systems(under many names).
But most of those Services were already built. By the year 2000, most of the Phone systems were done, Just add a bit here and there. Cable has been solid for years(backwards but solid).
Nothing needed development.
They didnt even notice when Amazon and Google were building Out, and creating their own systems, server sites, and so forth. Oh! wow, lets go But yahoo, and compuserve and see if we can Join in. DIDNT WORK. You had to have people inside those 2 companies monitoring things and developing MORE.
But that isnt what ATT and others wanted. They wanted the Companies to be self contained and efficient. No real change needed, no advancing or anything. They just want people to pay bills and they get the money.
This goes along with the Gov. Paying the ISP tons of money to Build up the system and nothing being done. Then we get to 5G, and all they really need to do is change the Antenna’s and abit of hardware. All over the country.
But for all its weakness’s, WHY?
Tons of video sites have limited the speed and Download of Video, so that you dont PAY for the video yo DONT WATCH.

I love the finger pointing at the Online companies. The ISP/Call/Cable/sat/… folks Own more then the online corps do.

This it to long, and there is abit more to say. But between 2 things in this country. Pushing the corp regs, and getting the Stock market fixed, all of things would work allot better.
Some odd reasoning that Supporting the Big companies will HELP the nation, is fatalism. We are going to be worse then other countries that we hate.

Jim says:

Sears and radio shack

Sears and r s failed the same as Montgomery wards, they were bought by third parties that did not know sales. The buying “companies” financed their buyout off stockholders who were conned into selling. Then they lowballed the staff that were left, making one part-time, except the department heads. Then, they gave control to the mba’s. Big mistake.

MightyMetricBatman says:

Re: Re:

Don’t forget the part where the hedgefund owners of Sears sold the profitable and growing revenue divisions of Sears to entities they owned for well below open market valuations.

Then ruined those divisions once directly under their control because they did not know squat about how to build a company rather than raid them to death.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 8-bit

I think Sears lost it in the mid 80s with computers and video games.
They went all in on tech and never hired anyone who knew the first thing about what they sold.
They spent so much on inventory over the next 20 years and it never got them anywhere. By the early 2000s they splitting their sales into micro stores and offshoots.

We had Sears, Sears Home, Sears Hardware, Sears Lifestyle. Sears Homestyle! Sears Furniture.

The furniture stores also sold tech hardware. The hardware stores had pool tables and game room stuff. There was no reasoning behind the madness.

It was top down failure.
I still remember the strip mall I lived by that had a Sears hardware on one side and a Sears home store on the other. The home store was almost entirely electronics.
But they both entered a mall that already had a Silo and a Circuit City! And a Smith furniture store!

That alone shows you home-office thinking. That’s bound to fail.

Mad Max (profile) says:


NFL Sunday Ticket will still be on DirecTV, it just won’t be exclusive. All the football fans in the rural areas with no high-speed broadband need satellite television.

The advent of streaming services accelerated the demise of Satellite television, but there will always be a need for Satellite services until they figure out how to get high-speed broadband to the rural areas cost-effectively.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:


ATT failed in the most important spot. One where Comcast didn’t.
Consistency of service.

Hold on… I didn’t say quality! I said consistency!

Do you have service? Yes? Good. No? For how long is your service out?
Hiccups? That old ATT favourite! Blame someone else. Xfi rarely drops out completely. When it does, it’s rarely for long. A few hours or less compared with o days for ATT.

I wouldn’t put Comcast up for sainthood but: they do have employees who care.

It doesn’t matter how big you are or who much you own. If you are not transmitting it!
ATT has the largest per box downtime rates.

They need to fix THAT before they worry about much else. All the restructuring in the world won’t save you if you have no customers!!!

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