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AT&T's Stankey: No Plans to Sell DirecTV

Jeff Baumgartner
9/24/2019

AT&T COO John Stankey told the Wall Street Journal the company has no plans to sell DirecTV, essentially denying a report that the paper put out last week holding that a sale of the unit was among the possible options being weighed.

Stankey said DirecTV is too valuable to AT&T, as it will play an important role in the company's streaming strategy and as a key cog for an advanced advertising business that is increasingly dependent on viewership data and targeting. The streaming piece will include AT&T's forthcoming HBO Max SVoD service, which will be sold as a standalone service and also rely on distribution through pay-TV providers such as -- AT&T's own DirecTV unit.

The WSJ reported last week that AT&T was "exploring" ways to unload DirecTV, including a possible spin-off or a sale/merger with a company such as Dish Network. The report also said AT&T might ultimately hold onto DirecTV, which still generates heaps of cash (which could help AT&T shrink its debt) despite weathering steep pay-TV subscriber losses in recent quarters. That report came soon after activist shareholder Elliott Management issued a letter to the AT&T board urging it to overhaul its front-office management and to take a look at divesting the struggling DirecTV unit it acquired four years ago for $49 billion.

It's also possible that AT&T flirted with the idea of selling DirecTV as part of a review, but ultimately decided that's the wrong direction. "We're constantly looking at the portfolio," he told the WSJ. "That's the normal course of business and it’s not unique to DirecTV."

Amid last week's report about the possibility that AT&T might pursue a sale of DirecTV, naysayers were quick to point out that a marriage with Dish Network, which could benefit from the cash generated from such a deal to help fund its mobile ambitions, would have a tough time getting past US regulators.

Stankey, viewed as a possible successor to company CEO Randall Stephenson, told the paper that he's not currently searching for his successor at AT&T's WarnerMedia division and that he has no intention of leaving his CEO post at the media giant. NBC News reported today that Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN and a former NBCU exec, is an internal candidate to take over for Stankey, citing five unnamed but "high-level WarnerMedia sources."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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Johnwick01
Johnwick01
11/20/2019 | 6:16:27 AM
No plan to sell direct TV
you discuss this thing in very detail and I totally agree with you. I have recently closed my 

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quickbooks01
quickbooks01
11/20/2019 | 5:30:26 AM
Re: Trial Balloon...
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10/25/2019 | 2:30:21 AM
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10/15/2019 | 7:02:55 AM
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mAriaja123
mAriaja123
10/15/2019 | 5:44:47 AM
Cost will increase
If you are planning to sell TV direct then it will definitely increase the price and one more thing if you want to reduce the price then you can sell them in the geek squad (best buy) store.
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sam611
10/12/2019 | 8:26:20 AM
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10/12/2019 | 5:57:18 AM
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10/12/2019 | 5:53:59 AM
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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner
9/25/2019 | 10:00:34 AM
Re: Trial Balloon...
That most certainly could be the case...was a strange series of events: WSJ comes out with an article spelling out the options, including a possible sale, and it's doubtful they'd put that out there without some solid sources indicating that. Then AT&T declines to comment on the original WSJ story, then a bunch of stories come out pouring cold water on the idea of a sale. Then Stankey makes these public comments. That all fits like a glove with your trial baloon theory. JB 
goaliebob99
goaliebob99
9/25/2019 | 8:06:20 AM
It would cost to much to sell.
DirecTV is too integrated at this point into AT&T's culture.  For them to sell it off would cost more than they would get to sell it because you have the entire DirecTV backbone integrated into AT&T's network.   That's a lot of fiber that was moved over to ATT circuits for all that video that goes around the country.  
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