AT&T announced they will stop selling DirecTV subscriptions, beginning in 2008. They will continue selling DISH Network subscriptions throughout 2008, and will then evaluate their long term strategy for DBS resale partnerships at the end of the year. AT&T was selling DirecTV in the former Bellsouth footprint, and DISH in the former SBC footprint. The news comes on the heels of AT&T’s affirmation of U-Verse future growth plans. Has the time come when AT&T no longer needs DBS partnerships for triple play bundles?
Probably not. AT&T still needs their DBS partnerships (and so does Verizon), which has yielded them 2 million video customers to date. Even with their ambitious U-Verse plans, they still only plan to reach about 50% of their residential footprint by year end 2010. That’s a lot of homes left to the triple play competition. DBS is their only answer, unless they plan to concede those homes to the likes of Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner. Highly unlikely. Comcast already has over 3 million phone customers today, while AT&T is predicting 1 million U-Verse video subs by year end 2008. Comcast’s phone customers are acquired primarily through triple and double play bundles. In order to keep up, AT&T will have to counter with their own bundles, and the only way they can compete across their entire footprint is through a DBS relationship.