A New Day For Retrans Fights? The DirecTV Spin-Off Is Complete


When it comes to retransmission consent agreement battles between broadcast TV stations and MVPDs, DirecTV under AT&T ownership was a difficult entity to negotiate with for a bevy of UHF and VHF owners.

With Tuesday’s creation of a new company named DIRECTV, following its spin from AT&T, will broadcast TV companies including Cox Media Group, TEGNA, Hearst and Cowles benefit when their next round of individual retrans talks start?

With private equity group TPG Capital fueling the $7.6 billion transaction, the DirecTV, AT&T TV and U-verse video services are no longer owned and operated by AT&T.

This creates a whole new company with approximately 15.4 million premium video subscribers at the end of Q2. To make the deal happen, AT&T received 70% in DirecTV; thus it remains the majority owner. TPG has a 30% interest in DirecTV, and paid $1.8 billion for the shares.

Nevertheless, DirecTV is not a unit of AT&T as of today.

Should broadcast TV companies with a difficult retrans history get excited? No. The DirecTV board will include CEO Bill Morrow and voting members Steve McGaw and Thaddeus Arroyo, appointed by AT&T.


Not included in this transaction are WarnerMedia’s HBO Max streaming platform and regional sports networks, both of which are part of the pending WarnerMedia-Discovery transaction; Vrio (AT&T’s Latin American video operations, which are being sold to Grupo Werthein); U-verse network assets; and AT&T’s Sky Mexico investment. DIRECTV will continue to offer HBO Max to subscribers along with any bundled wireless or broadband services and associated customer discounts.