Is AT&T Roaming The TV/Digital Landscape?

AT&T isn’t done yet. 

Still digesting its big $48.5 billion DirecTV purchase -- which has made it the biggest U.S. pay TV provider -- now the telecommunications giant apparently wants to expand, and buy some big content producers, according to reports. 

Yes, we have seen this before. Big “synergistic” framed deals in the mid-1980s/1990s between content owners and content distributors were in vogue with some decidedly uneven results. (Hello, AOL-Time Warner!)

We had other deals with mixed results (News Corp. had a big investment of DirecTV; then Liberty Media had an investment in DirecTV.) So far, Comcast is getting it right, regarding NBCUniversal and its cable operations.

No matter. AT&T is looking for more media deals in the $2 billion to $50 billion range, according to Bloomberg. Now $2 billion might not buy you much content. But $50 billion? That’s a different story.



On Wednesday, Netflix’s market capitalization was $45.4 billion; Viacom was at a more modest $15.2 billion; and Scripps Network Interactive, an even cheaper $8.2 billion.

AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson keeps tabs on some 40 companies and looks to start making deals over a three-to-five year period.

Already, AT&T has gone after some smaller content targets -- with no results. For example Starz, which was bought by Lions Gate Entertainment for $4.4 billion. And before the Viacom board changed direction, AT&T has been mulling an investment in Paramount Pictures.

A really big target? One analyst considered the idea of Time Warner, which currently has a market cap of $61.8 billion. It rebuffed a 21st Century Fox in 2014. 

You can’t blame AT&T. Content -- especially premium video content -- continues to be in high demand -- among consumers, among TV advertisers, only likely to be more important in future years. 

But dealing with the vagaries of producing premium TV shows and movies are not for the weak of heart. Just look at those wildly uneven financial results of big media companies’ movie studio theatrical performance and home entertainment businesses. 

TV networks and programming can be a better bet -- but with the coming big changes in distribution and advertising -- that won’t get easier, either. In any event, AT&T needs to keep the lines open.

2 comments about "Is AT&T Roaming The TV/Digital Landscape?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 6, 2016 at 10:59 a.m.

    Hey, AT&T, I'm a content providoe wannabie with a great sitcom ,  "Ed and Friends" ,in development. You can buy my content company for a paltry $10 million----but you had better hurry up and go for it as I've got lots of interested suitors.---I think.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 6, 2016 at 11:59 a.m.

    OK, so I do typos---make that "provider" not "providoe".

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