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DirecTV | Consumer Triple Play - Part 2

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06 Jan

Trump Still Opposes AT&T Time Warner Merger

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President-Elect Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump is still opposing the merger between Time Warner Inc and AT&T. He believes that the merger would concentrate much power in the media industry, but Trump has been publicly silent about the mega-merger. It is rumored that the President-elect told his inner circle that he considers the merger decision to be bad. Reports say that chief strategist of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, also opposes the deal.

During the election campaigns, Trump blasted the deal and shares of Time Warner climbed ten percent on speculation that the Trump Administration would be friendly to the 85.4 billion merger. However, after Bloomberg reported on what Trump thinks about the deal, the shares of Time Warner dropped as much as 3.8 percent.

Hope Hicks, who is the spokeswoman for Trump, did not respond to the rumors, and both Time Warner and AT&T also declined to comment. Nevertheless, Cowen & Co. analyst Paul Gallant feels that the opposition of Trump to the deal is a bit negative. He said that everything is negotiable with the President-elect and added that the review process is still in the very early stages.

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AT&T Time Warner Merger

It is not yet clear if Trump will try to influence the regulatory review of the merger. He can either push the officials to put forward the conditions or block the deal completely. If the deal is made, it will combine the biggest pay television and internet service provider in the US with the largest creator of programming, but the deal will be reviewed by the Justice Department and most probably by the Federal Communications Commission.

Trump will take the President’s office on Jan 20 and has nominated Senator Jeff Sessions to lead the Department of Justice. He has not yet suggested a successor for the departing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler though. In October, before the presidential selection, Trump said that his Administration wouldn’t approve the merger, saying, “It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” He cited the deal as “an example of the power structure I’m fighting.”

If Trump wishes to influence the review, he may have more success with FCC as they weigh deals on public interest standard, said analyst Craig Moffett. “If the FCC takes the case, President Trump could influence the decision in any number of ways,” Moffett said. “He can effectively turn up the heat and make it very difficult for the FCC to disagree with him.”

04 Jan

KCRA Channels Go Dark On DirecTV

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Blackout Of KCRA Channels

DirecTV cable customers in the Sacramento region will still not be able to access KCRA and its sister channels. Reports indicate that the blackout of these channels is due to the dispute between Hearst Television and DirecTV, over transmission fees. The previous contract between Hearst Television and DirecTV expired at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 01, 2017, following which, KCRA and other channels were blacked out on DirecTV in 28 cities across the United States.

In a recent statement, Hearst said that DirecTV was looking to negotiate a new agreement with them at “below market rates.” On the other hand, DirecTV’s parent company, AT&T, argued that Hearst was looking to acquire “a significant increase in fees just to allow those same families to watch shows available for free over-the-air and that the broadcast networks typically make available for free online and through new digital apps.”

According to media analyst Jan Dawson, the dispute between the two parties gives us an insight on how TV broadcasters are viewing the transmission fees. Most of the stations were content with the little amount delivered by pay-TV providers until a few years ago. Dawson adds that the stations have now realized that “they’re very valuable as part of the channel lineup. These companies clearly want new revenue streams.”

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Dispute Over Transmission Fees

He also says that a few years ago, the amount paid to the stations was actually less than 10 percent of the broadcasters’ revenues. However, the fees paid by some providers currently are a lot more than 30 percent of the total revenue.

Reports indicate that the dispute between DirecTV and Hearst Television will affect approximately 16 percent of the total households in the four-county Sacramento region. The dispute will cover KCRA’s flagship station, Channel 3, and KQCA My58. In addition to that, DirecTV subscribers in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Boston areas will also be affected by this dispute.

Dawson believes that these types of disputes usually end quickly, as subscribers pressurize the providers to reach a settlement with the network, so that they can continue to access their channels. It is to be noted that Cox Media Group stations were also recently blacked out on DirecTV for similar reasons, but the provider reached a new deal with the other party in a matter of few hours.

30 Dec

DirecTV May Drop WHIO-TV On New Year

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WHIO-TV Blackout

In recent news, AT&T is reported to be planning the end of local CBS affiliate, WHIO-TV, on U-Verse and DirecTV packages, despite of the prolonged negotiations. This means that AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV users will no longer be able to watch WHIO-TV from January 1 starting at 03:00 a.m.

Rob Rohr, who is the General Manager and Market Vice President of WHIO-TV, issued the statement regarding the matter. “I am disappointed that my company and AT&T appear to be reaching an impasse that could lead to a disruption in WHIO-TV’s service for AT&T U-verse and DirecTV subscribers,” Rohr said. “In just the past few weeks, we have reached agreements with some of the largest video distributors in the country. At this point, every distributor besides AT&T/DirecTV has reached a long-term agreement to continue carrying WHIO-TV.”

“We are asking only that AT&T/DirecTV offer a fair deal that adequately values WHIO-TV’s award-winning news, sports, entertainment, weather and traffic programming,” the statement further added. “The fees cable and satellite companies pay us go to fund these important local services. Accepting unreasonable fees from AT&T/DirecTV would lead to less local news, less local sports, less local weather and less community involvement by WHIO-TV.”

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Cox Media Group Channels

By law, WHIO-TV should negotiate the carriage deals and agreements with satellite TV firms like AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV, and usually, the deals are made without any disruption to the service. Many negotiations of agreement have been done with minimal disruptions, but this time, AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV has not reached a market-based deal to carry WHIO-TV.

The existing agreement between WHIO-TV and AT&T will expire at 3 a.m. on New Year’s morning, and if a deal is not made before the date, WHIO-TV will be dropped from U-Verse and DirecTV packages. However, viewers can still watch WHIO-TV over the air.

Cox Media Group officials said that viewers should call AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV and let them know that they pay much money to watch WHIO-TV. Reports say that WHIO-TV will continue negotiations with DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse and the updates will be published on their official website as the negotiations progress.

28 Dec

Blackout Of Local NFL Games Will Have A Negative Impact On DirecTV Now

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Local NFL Games

One of the biggest selling points of AT&T’s latest online streaming service, DirecTV Now, was the deal signed by AT&T and Fox a few weeks ago. This deal allowed DirecTV Now subscribers to access all the local Fox Stations in certain Fox owned markets.

DirecTV Now subscribers assumed that this deal would allow them to access and watch the NFL games. However, many DirecTV Now customers across different markets reported that they were not able to watch some of the NFL games. AT&T immediately responded and stated that they have identified a “technical issue”, which prevented DirecTV Now customers from watching the match and added that they have resolved the problem.

The statement from AT&T noted, “On Sunday, we experienced an issue where some DIRECTV Now customers were unable to stream portions of the football games on their respective local Fox channel. We’ve identified the issue and are confident that customers will be able to stream next Sunday’s games in available markets where league blackout restrictions don’t apply.”

AT&T refused to specify what the “issue” that caused the blackouts was. However, the customer service team of DirecTV Now made a statement on Twitter by stating that the issue was “caused by the streaming service not having the rights to any NFL game carried by a network that had the game’s national rights.”

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Channels Blackout

This statement doesn’t fit with the statement from AT&T, which means that DirecTV Now subscribers might be able to watch the NFL games in upcoming weeks. Sling TV and PlayStation Vue subscribers were able to access the games and they did not any encounter any blackouts during the broadcast of the game.

Analyst claims that if AT&T fails to resolve the issue soon, this might affect DirecTV Now badly. This is because there is a possibility for NFL fans to opt out of DirecTV Now and to join the competitors if AT&T is unable to offer the broadcast of NFL games.

The “league blackout restrictions” of AT&T was actually a nod to Verizon’s exclusive with the option to stream and watch NFL games on smartphones. Reports indicate that DirecTV Now customers will not be able to access the locally televised NFL games on their smartphones, as Verizon holds the exclusive rights for this category. However, DirecTV Now subscribers will still be able to watch the local NFL games on their tablets, computers, and connected TV’s.

16 Dec

NAD Says That Charter’s Ad Claims On DirecTV Were Unsupported

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DirecTV Subscribers

The ad review team of the Better Business Bureau has recently advised Charter Communications to stop using advertisements that make what it says are “unsubstantiated” claims about the impact of AT&T and DirecTV merger on customer support and service.

“NAD [National Advertising Division] determined that the depicted conversation in the ‘Transfer’ commercial conveys the substantive message that DirecTV’s merger with AT&T has had a deleterious effect on the company’s ability to provide customer service. Because such a claim was not supported, NAD recommended that the advertisement be discontinued,” the report said.

It is true that the commercials are funny, but being funny does not remove the obligation to support the claims that are made by the commercials, said NAD. The National Advertising Division is an investigate unit of the advertisement industry self-regulatory body and the recommendations of NAD are not finding of wrongdoings. According to NAD, Charter Communications said that they accepted the recommendations put forward by the division.

NAD also said that Charter could support the claims made in their ads about the promotional pricing. These advertisements were placed on the internet and were also broadcasted. The ad featured comedian Kevin Nealon as the “captain” of a satellite TV service that is made to look out of date. The ads “depicted satellite television consumers as frustrated with the number and type of channels featured in their particular service package and included the unsupported claim that DirecTV customers ‘pay more for what [they] love to watch’,” NAD said.

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Unsupported Claims

However, Officials said that one of the claims of Charter was supported. Charter claimed that the DirecTV bill has doubled as the old bill had been at a promotional price. “NAD found the claim supported by the evidence in the record,” the report added.

It is to be noted that this is not the first time that NAD criticized advertisements of a media company. They had recently asked Comcast Corporation to stop making claims that their subs have access to 4 times more unique movies and shows than DirecTV. These claims were made in the “Get Faster” and “Rerun” ads.

The ads, in addition to the content claim, also said that DirecTV is “is built on old tech”, that “customers must watch reruns,” and “does not offer voice-controlled search features,” and that Comcast “has newer technology overall.” NAD said that Comcast should drop the “old tech” claim and the suggestion that DirecTV does not give voice controlled search features.

15 Dec

AT&T’s Proposed Merger With Time Warner Might Pass Regulatory Review

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AT&T Time Warner Merger

President Donald Trump had earlier claimed that he would block the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner if he were elected as the President of the United States. This had created a great concern among the executives of both the companies. However, many analysts now argue that the leadership of Trump might bring benefits to the companies.

William Power, a chief analyst at RW Baird, said, “We believe the Trump focus on deregulation and lower tax rates could provide a multiplier effect for AT&T’s businesses. Trump’s push for lower tax rates and less regulation should benefit corporate profitability and capital investment, which should in turn benefit AT&T’s results.”

Power believes that improving the economy will certainly give AT&T an additional boost and a lesser tax rate would “meaningfully benefit AT&T’s profitability and cash flow with no change in economic activity.”

In addition to that, reports also indicate that Trump would loosen the regulation on the telecom enterprise and he might even restore the net neutrality protections. This will offer more freedom to the internet service providers to control the pricing, traffic and access.

AT&T‘s zero-rating practices is already being inspected by the Federal Communications Commission. This practice allows customers to access certain services or apps without disturbing their data caps. For instance, AT&T customers can access the latest streaming service from AT&T, DirecTV Now, without eating up their data cap.

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AT&T Plans Ahead

It is significant to note that zero-rating can bring a number of concerns when we consider the competition. Many analysts claim that easing regulation on practices like this will certainly bring tons of benefits. Power also wrote that the chances for the proposed merger between Time Warner and AT&T are a lot higher.

“Time Warner provides a new growth engine, helps diversify the business and adds strong cash flow,” Power added. “Senate hearings last week seemed to be largely favorable, though not altogether surprising. The DOJ will ultimately be the key decision maker, though the vertical nature seems to increase the odds, similar to the previous Comcast-NBCUniversal merger.”

The executives from AT&T are also hopeful that the deal will pass through the regulatory review even though Donald Trump had earlier announced that he would oppose the deal. Reports indicate that the proposed deal between AT&T and Time Warner will bring numerous benefits for both the companies.

15 Dec

Fox And DirecTV Owned Company Strikes Deal With DOJ Over FIFA Bribes

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Sports On TV

It seems that the FIFA corruption scandal also involves media companies, not just executives, and some of these media companies have major ties to US broadcasters and companies. One of the important businesses involved is Cayman Islands-registered T&T, partly owned by DirecTV and Fox. T&T is related to Argentinean company Torneos y Competencias SA and the company controls 25 percent of T&T.

DirecTV owns 40 percent of Torneos, which has been charged with one count of wire fraud conspiracy by the U.S. Department of Justice. They agreed DOJ to pay about $112.8 million in exchange for deferred prosecution agreement that will see the charge dropped, if the company followed the terms of the agreement for a period of four years. Mica Rosenberg and Nate Raymond of Reuters wrote that the deal could affect the stake value of DirecTV.

What was Tornoeos doing? It is much more than the future World Cups. Plenty of bribes were paid for TV rights to the various tournaments, including Copa America and Copa Libertadores. The 92-count indictment that was filed last December includes many details. Only two companies have shares in T&T and according to Torneos, a Fox affiliate owns 75 percent of the shares and Torneos owns 25 percent of the shares.

T&T was not a broadcaster, but got broadcast rights and sold them to different broadcasters. In the case of Copa Sudamericana and Copa Libertadores, T&T sold the broadcast rights to Fox, but GolTV was not happy with that. They filed a lawsuit against Fox Sports Latin America, accusing the Fox executives of wire fraud, money laundering, bribery, and many more to get the broadcast rights, despite of bidding less than GolTV.

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TV Viewers In US

The lawsuit filed against Fox also included allegations that previous FIFA VP Eugenio Figueredo said: “The company FOX was behind all the illegal negotiations.” He also indicated that a manager, whose last name was Martinez, is the one responsible. Figueredo said this in his plea agreement with Uruguayan prosecutors and alleged that CONMEBOL chose lower bids from T&T repeatedly for the tournaments over higher ones from GolTV. Fox said that the allegations are “entirely meritless” in their statement.

“This is an entirely meritless claim. Fox had no operational control over any of the entities named in the FIFA indictment, and no Fox employees were implicated,” Fox Network Group said in a statement. “As for GolTV, it has been attempting without success to challenge the award of rights to Fox that were negotiated after the FIFA indictment, with full transparency to CONMEBOL. This lawsuit will fail just as GolTV’s previous efforts have failed.”

08 Dec

AT&T Thrilled With The Early Demand For DirecTV Now

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Demand For DirecTV Now

AT&T launched their latest streaming service, DirecTV Now, a few days ago. The major telecom company had earlier promised that the new streaming platform would deliver contents without any lags or technical errors. However, customers experienced a few technical errors during the launch of DirecTV Now and it raised concerns among certain analysts and subscribers. Nevertheless, AT&T recently stated that they are thrilled and happy due to the initial interest shown by subscribers towards DirecTV Now.

In a recent conference, AT&T’s CEO and president, Randall Stephenson, said that, “The early demand has been rather dramatic we’ve been pleased with it.” He also added that the CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, John Stankey, informed him that the company has already met their target for December subscribers on the launching day of DirecTV Now.

He said that the demand is “exceeding expectations”, particularly in the apartment buildings. In addition to that, Stephenson also stated that he was highly pleased with the addition of Cinemax and HBO, which will be available to the subscribers at an additional price of $5 a month.

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DirecTV Now Service

Stephenson added that AT&T is “perfectly content” with “lower, thinner margins.” He said, “Early on, I do expect the margins to be fairly thin.” AT&T officials have also claimed that approximately half of DirecTV subscribers will stream a few of their content by the end of this year.

“The advertising opportunity here we think is rather significant,” Stephenson said. He continued by stating that one of the top priorities of the company next year is to “really begin to scale those advertising models” for DirecTV Now. Reports say that the company is also hoping to pair their offerings such as wireless and DirecTV or broadband and wireless.

Stephen added that when this happens, “churn goes down precipitously” referring to the customers, who do not review their services. “We have high expectations for churn reduction in this environment,” Stephenson said. He also added that the latest streaming platform is “a 5G service being launched on a 4G network.”

Stephenson hopes that the launch of these new products will boost the efforts to bring 5G, but he refused to shed more light on AT&T’s merger with Time Warner during the conference. “We do not compete. This is a classic vertical merger,” AT&T CEO commented.

18 Nov

Viceland Launches Three New Series And The Channel Will Be Available In DirecTV Now

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DirecTV Entertainment

Viceland is the latest channel from A+E Networks and Vice Media. The channel will now premiere three new series, named “Payday”, “Bong Appétit”, and “Big Night Out.” Reports say that DirecTV is expanding their distribution network to include Viceland channel in the DirecTV Select package as well as in the DirecTV Entertainment and DirecTV Choice packages. The channel will also be included in the entry-level package on DirecTV Now service when it is launched.

“Payday”, which just had its debut on the network, follows “four 20-somethings over the course of a single pay-period to see how they live, spend, struggle, and thrive, tracing the fortunes of this emerging generation,” as per the network. The series is aired on Fridays.

The series “Big Night Out” follows Clive Martin, as he travels and explores rave culture across the globe. This show will premiere on Dec 14, with “Bong Appétit” premiering the following night. The network said that “Bong Appétit” will be hosted by Abdullah Saeed, and will explore “making and consumption of high-end cannabis-infused foods.” The guests and chefs are expected to change per episode.

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Viceland Programming

Viceland has also renewed two of their existing series, which includes the skateboard reality competition show “Kings of the Road”, and the third season of the popular series, “Weediquette”, which is hosted by Krishna Andavolu.

The announcement from Viceland says, “In addition to new content, the network announced season renewals for its hybrid skateboard-reality competition show, “Kings of the Road”, featuring Thrasher’s annual scavenger hunt, pitting some of the best skaters in the country against each other on the adventure of a lifetime, putting their lives, limbs, and dignity in often ridiculous peril.”

“Also returning for its third season, one of the network’s breakout shows, “Weediquette” with Krishna Andavolu, an on-going look at the role of marijuana in all points within the culture as the U.S. slowly begins to legalize it. Premiere dates will be announced at a later date,” the statement added.

Vice Media CEO and Founder, Shane Smith, is much excited about the new and existing projects. “I am just tickled pink to announce Viceland’s new series and also very happy with how our distributors across the board like DirecTV are embracing Viceland not only on traditional platforms but OTT as well,” Smith said.

“Viceland continues to grow in audience and reach with our core cohorts being millennials. We are having a lot of fun with Viceland and see this as only the beginning of our evolution as a brand. Vive la difference!”

11 Nov

DirecTV Glitch Causes Blackout Of Fox And CNN News

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DirecTV Outage

There was an outage in DirecTV services last week and as a result of it, subscribers were unable to watch Fox News and CNN news for some time. DirecTV said that a glitch that affected the HD set top boxes was the cause of eight channels, which included CNN and Fox News, going dark across their pay-TV footprint. However, some of the customers took on the DirecTV message boards to suggest that the blackout issue has some other hidden causes.

“What happened to Fox News. This is the only News source in my household and I’m very aggravated that it is being censored! Please provide an explanation why the only conservative news source is in ‘Technical Difficulty’. If it’s being censored I will discontinue my service,” a customer wrote on the DTV USA Forum page.

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Channel Blackouts

According to another user, “Fox News is intentionally blacked out for the second day in a row by dishonest DirecTV employees. It’s no coincidence that this happens TWICE in the week before the election — when it hasn’t happened in at least a year prior, if ever. Hey DirecTV, we are not stupid (but apparently you are).”

Technicians at AT&T said that the glitch affected eight channels and access to BBC World News, Fusion, Comedy Central, Ovation, and NBC Sports were lost due to the technical issues. Nevertheless, the MSNBC Network was not affected by the technical glitch, and neither was the standard definition channel of Fox News.

“With the exception of Fusion and BBC World News, we continued to provide the standard definition (SD) versions of these channels to our customers. We proactively reached out to customers via social and online channels to help ensure that they understood how to view the content,” AT&T said explaining the blackout. “The HD versions of these channels for most customers were back online early Friday afternoon CT. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”

AT&T was able to fix the glitch and the High Definition version of the channels for most of the subscribers was back online within hours.

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