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04 Feb

DirecTV Refused To Sign A Deal With The SportsNet LA Due To The Increased Pricing

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DirecTV recently informed a federal court that the reason why they pulled out from signing a carriage deal with Time Warner Cable for SportsNet LA channel is the pricing of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball. The cable service provider, DirecTV, along with their parent company, AT&T, informed that the Justice Department has not filed a case for either anti-competitive effects or restraint of trade in their suit against the satellite TV provider over the carriage for SportsNet LA.

SportsNet LA is managed by Charter Communications and is currently owned by the Dodgers. Charter acquired a long-term deal with the baseball team in last May. Reports indicate that TWC was charging too much for SportsNet LA and DirecTV was not ready to pay this amount.

Many analysts still have no clue on how the Trump Administration’s Justice Department will pursue this case. President Trump had earlier stated that he is planning to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner (which is a separate company). However, in a recent statement, AT&T Chairman and CEO, Randall Stephenson focused only on the impact of regulations and about creating jobs.

DirecTV remains hopeful that the court will dismiss the lawsuit “as a matter of law,” and “with prejudice.” The Justice Department charged DirecTV a few months ago for being the “ringleader” in a series of “unlawful information exchanges” with Charter Communications (before Charter acquired TWC), Cox Communications, and AT&T (before AT&T acquired DirecTV) during the negotiations of the companies for the rights to carry SportsNet LA.

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DirecTV informed the court that the filed complaint was only on the basis of generalized allegations of information sharing. DirecTV also noted that there is “no allegation of any multilateral agreement of communication on the negotiations, or anything else for that matter. No allegation that DirecTV’s negotiations were not in good faith, no allegation of improper communications with Dish or Verizon, who still don’t carry the channel, and no allegation that any of the distributors who allegedly would have carried the channel save for the communications had market power over TWC.”

“There is nothing in the complaint that contradicts the obvious alternative explanation that DirecTV and other distributors independently analyzed the value of the Dodgers Channel to their subscribers, tried to negotiate reasonable terms with TWC in good faith, and reached the same fundamental conclusion that TWC’s price demands were too high,” DirecTV officials added.

03 Feb

Taylor Swift Partners With AT&T To Host A Pre-Super Bowl Event

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Pre-Super Bowl Event

Lady Gaga has already started preparing for the Super Bowl 51 halftime show, which will be held on February 5, 2017 during the opening match of the Super Bowl. However, another popular name in the music industry, Taylor Swift recently revealed her plans to headline a show on her own.

The telecom giant AT&T has already guaranteed that they will support Taylor Swift for this initiative. Reports indicate that over 100 million viewers will tune in to their television to watch the opening game between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. Taylor Swift and her sponsor, DirecTV, are all set to attract music lovers by hosting a new pre-Super Bowl event just a day before the Super Bowl. The event will be hosted on the same city.

The Editor-in-Chief of the Hollywood Life, Bonnie Fuller told FOX Business that she doesn’t feel the Swift’s event “as a play to steal Lady Gaga’s thunder.” However, she added that this is a good marketing strategy from AT&T and Taylor Swift.

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“I think she, AT&T and DirecTV are smart to capitalize on the massive interest in the Super Bowl to film a concert, and celebrities like John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Aaron Rodgers, Lea Michele and Peyton Manning, will be in their seats cheering for Gaga as well as Taylor,” Fuller said. “Taylor Swift will absolutely give a blowout performance at her Taylor Swift Now concert, but she won’t have the benefit of being seen live in front of over 100 million viewers, like Lady Gaga.”

Reports also indicate that the tickets for the event hosted by Taylor Swift are free and they were distributed through different AT&T campaigns and promotions. Taylor Swift recently tweeted on her official Twitter account saying, “This is gonna be fun,” and also posited a picture of a football jersey with her lucky number 13.

An AT&T representative said, “We have a long history–this is the 12th annual event DirecTV has hosted during the Big Game weekend. Unlike other events this weekend, there is no streaming or live broadcast of this special, its invitation only.” The officials from AT&T added that the clips of this event will be made available to viewers on Taylor Swift’s new channel right after the show. AT&T launched the channel just a few weeks ago.

01 Feb

AT&T Confident To Close Time Warner Deal This Year

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AT&T Time Warner Merger

AT&T is confident that their proposed 85 million dollar acquisition of Time Warner Inc. will be completed by the end of 2017. CFO John Stephens said to analysts on their earnings call that the deal will be closed by the end of the year, even though the new US President Donald Trump has voiced opposition to this deal.

“We remain confident that the deal will be approved later this year,” Stephens said. However, it is to be noted that the deal is not yet approved by the Department of Justice and President Trump had previously said that he does not agree with the AT&T Time Warner merger plan.

Before the elections, Trump said at a campaign rally that the proposed merger was “a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

On Jan 12, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson met with the then President-elect at the Trump Tower, but reports say that the Time Warner deal was not discussed in the meeting. Stephenson said that Trump “had a very specific agenda” that he needed to cover in the meeting: corporate tax reform and regulatory reform.

“I was impressed,” Stephenson said. “I was meeting with a CEO – it was obvious.” He said he left the Trump confab with a “degree of optimism” that tax reform could actually be pulled off this year. “If we want to get off this 1% to 2% growth plane… we have to have tax reform,” AT&T’s CEO said.

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When asked about Trump’s appointment of the Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who is a vocal critic of net neutrality regulations, Stephenson said that he believed that the new Chairman would rationalize the current regulations. Pai is not a fan of the Title II regulations on ISPs under the Open Internet Order of FCC, and Stephenson says that Open Internet Order is a rule that is “suppressive to investment” by telecom providers.

The AT&T CEO said that with the new FCC leadership, the Telco would not change their strategy on the zero-rated services that exclude some content like DirecTV Now from the wireless data caps. “We were quite confident that zero-rating was fine under a Pai chairmanship” or any other FCC regime, he said. The zero-rated data offers are “something our customers are loving. That’s a big deal. It’s proving to be very advantageous in the marketplace for our customers.”

31 Jan

AT&T Extending Services To Gatlinburg

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Gatlinburg’s deadly wildfires have left AT&T speeding up its plans in providing the residents with television, internet, and phone services. It is a move aimed at offering a much viable and better option than Charter for the residents, as there has been a surge of complaints in recent weeks from many customers against Charter’s services. The company is accused of not restoring the internet and TV services while also billing the customers for services never provided. There are also complaints regarding Charter’s demand for refund from the customers by sending them refund checks.

AT&T intends to provide new services to customers in the Chalet Village and Greystone Heights by the end of July. Spokeswoman Cathy Lewandowski said, “I think folks will be pretty excited to hear there’s another service option which includes AT&T. We have already received service orders from folks who are in that area that want AT&T. This is great news for us. We’re working to provide our customers with the latest and greatest technology, so that they can do their business and have their connectivity provided by AT&T.”

After a month of the fire, Charter has successfully restored its services for Gatlinburg customers to almost sixty percent. Charter spokesperson Patti Michel brought out a statement that declared, “Charter is committed to restoring service as quickly as possible and have deployed additional crews to accelerate reconstruction. As of Jan. 18, our crews have restored more than 55 miles of network infrastructure. The percentage of customers restored is growing continually as we rebuild our network where it was damaged by the fire.”

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AT&T’s decision to implement the new services in Chalet and Greystone heights was a relief to many customers. Kristi Buchholz, whose cabin was burned up in the fire, shared her excitement on AT&T’s offering, and said, “I would absolutely consider them first, and maybe that will help the residents in another way, by making the cost of it not as high if there’s a little competition in the area. I probably would go to them over Charter based on how (Charter) treated everybody up there. I think a lot of people would do that.”

The fire affected many local businesses and the slow restoration work has caused a negative impact in the services. Alecia Hasselbeck, whose rental business is severely affected by the outage, is optimistic about AT&T’s decision to provide services in Chalet region. Many customers in the area are also awaiting AT&T in providing much better services than Charter.

17 Jan

DirecTV Now Customers Ask For Refund

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AT&T Streaming Service

The latest online streaming service, DirecTV Now, has encountered plenty of streaming issues since its launch. What’s more, a number of DirecTV Now subscribers recently reported that AT&T, which is the parent company of DirecTV Now, refused to give them a refund.

Reports indicate that the customers requested for refund, as they were not satisfied with the performance offered by the streaming service. Many DirecTV customers noted that they contacted AT&T reps through the chat feature and asked about refunds for their subscription, but the officials replied that the company is not offering any refunds to its customers.

One of the AT&T representatives responded to a customer by stating that, “We do not currently have a policy in place to offer any refunds.” However, a DirecTV Now subscriber complained, “Constant buffering, freezing and lockups at various times of the day. DirecTV Now is NOT ready for prime time.”

AT&T had earlier marketed DirecTV Now as a “cancel anytime” type of service, but it seems that you might not be able to get your money back if you are dissatisfied with the performance offered by the service. According to experts, most of the new streaming services have faced similar streaming issues and other technical difficulties in the initial months of its launch, and it is expected that AT&T fix all the technical issues and other problems soon.

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DirecTV Now Customers

A recent statement from an AT&T spokesperson noted, “With any new technology there are going to be fixes that need to be made. While we understand we still have work to do, overall feedback on DIRECTV NOW has been very positive. We’re continuously updating the app to provide a better experience for customers. We encourage customer to keep the app updated.”

DirecTV Now offers plenty of exciting offers to customers and it is one of the best streaming service options available to the customers. The basic package offered by DirecTV Now is available to the subscribers at just $35 a month and it offers access to more than 60 popular channels.

However, DirecTV Now is not the only streaming service option for cord cutters. Dish Network’s Sling TV and PlayStation Vue are the major competitors of DirecTV Now, who are doing quite well in the market. Reports indicate that the streaming issues in DirecTV Now might even force customers to move to Sling TV or PlayStation Vue.

13 Jan

DirecTV Plans To Drop The Contents Of CW And KIFI Stations

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CW And KIFI Stations

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that DirecTV is planning to drop both the CW and KIFI stations from their channel lineup. Reports claim that the cable TV service provider has already informed these stations about a potential blackout of their channels.

Both KIFI and the CW were trying to negotiate a long-term retransmission consent agreement with the DirecTV for the last few weeks. This was to ensure that the contents offered by these stations would not be blacked out on any of the DirecTV packages. However, the officials from both the stations claim that DirecTV has refused to pay a fair value to the programs offered by the stations.

If rumors were true, this means that DirecTV subscribers will not be able to access the top rated programming from both western Wyoming and eastern Idaho stations. These programming include local news, network news, sports programming, and a lot more entertainment programs.

Reports indicate that both the CW and KIFI has extended their current retransmission consent agreement with DirecTV for about eight times in order to strike a new deal with the cable service provider. Unfortunately, the negotiations between the parties have not yet been successful.

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The general manger of NPG of Idaho, Monte Young said, “We first presented DIRECTV with an offer for a new long-term agreement on September 6, 2016. For several months, we negotiated with DIRECTV and over that time, it became apparent that DIRECTV refuses to pay a fair value for our programming. KIFI and the CW provide the highest rated Programming on DIRECTV’s system.”

“We offer the top rated local news relevant to DIRECTV’s eastern Idaho and western Wyoming subscribers. We also are the primary source for ABC and CW network programming,” Young added. “Yet, despite all of that, DIRECTV refuses to pay a fee that is approximately one-fifth of what it pays for channels like ESPN, which has a fraction of our ratings. I am shocked that DIRECTV sees almost no value in the top rated local news in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming.”

On the other hand, subscribers of Dish Network, Charter Communications, and Cable One will be able to access the contents of both the CW and KIFI. “We have reached long term agreements with every other major cable and satellite distributor,” Young said. He also indicated that negotiations between DirecTV and the local stations are going on, and hopes are still high.

03 Jan

DirecTV Customers Lose Access To 33 Hearst Television Stations

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DirecTV Customers

Recently, some DirecTV customers complained that they were not able access 33 Hearst Television stations on their DirecTV packages, as the channels went dark at midnight on January 1, 2017. Reports indicate that the blacking out of these channels is because the retransmission consent negotiations between both the parties broke down. However, the blackout of all these stations doesn’t come as a surprise to DirecTV customers because Hearst had already warned the viewers that there is a possibility for the blackout.

AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV customers in about 28 markets including Boston (ABC affiliate WCVB), Orlando, Fla. (NBC affiliate WESH), Louisville, Ky. (CBS affiliate WLKY), Baltimore (NBC affiliate WBAL), New Orleans (NBC affiliate WDSU), and Pittsburgh (ABC affiliate WTAE) are currently unable to access the Hearst Television stations. Hearst published a statement on their website claiming that they have a history of thriving re-trans negotiations with other providers and they delivered quality content to the viewers without any disruptions or blackout.

“Unfortunately, the DirecTV negotiating team is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable given the significant investments we have made to deliver top tier programming to our viewers,” WLKY president and general manager, Glenn Haygood said. “We regret the inconvenience DirecTV’s demands have imposed on its subscribers, and we will keep you fully informed of developments.”

DirecTV viewers will have a hard time, as the provider has also lost access to 14 Cox Media properties in 10 of their popular markets such as Oklahoma, Seattle and Tulsa, N.C., Charlotte and Atlanta, on January 1. The loss of these properties is because the carriage deal between both the parties expired.

Cox Media EVP of Television Jane Williams, said, “Negotiations continue, and we expect this disruption to be brief considering that every other pay-TV provider has come to reasonable terms with CMG. We have made ourselves available twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week to get this deal done.”

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Hearst Television Stations

In a recent statement, AT&T said, “We want to get our customers’ usual local broadcast stations back into their lineups and share their frustration. Hearst Television is preventing its local signals from reaching DirecTV customers’ homes in 26 different cities unless Hearst receives 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.”

“Hearst has suspended its stations briefly from other TV providers’ customers before, so we appreciate our DirecTV customers’ patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably.”

20 Dec

T-Mobile Offers Free DirecTV Now Deal

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T-Mobile has been releasing many interesting deals for their users. However, experts say that T-Mobile has been rolling out offers that are never what they seem. Their free iPhone 7 and great discounts on the Pixel Android phones are a few examples. And now, they have made a new announcement.

T-Mobile has just announced their plans to win AT&T customers by offering them a free year of DirecTV Now subscription. Many experts in the field say that the DirecTV Now service is weaker than the other similar streaming services in the market though, as DirecTV Now service offers only limited content, does not have any option to record the programs, and has many technical glitches.

Moreover, the content streamed in the DirecTV Now service is limited to 480p quality. This resolution might be enough when you stream on a smartphone or a tablet, but it will not be enough when you stream media on a large monitor or television screen. The video will be blurred on large size displays owing to the low resolution.

The advantage of the service is that streamed DirecTV content will not be eating into the monthly data allotments of the new T-Mobile subscribers. If you are thinking on switching to T-Mobile, then with the new deal, this is the best time to do so. The network of T-Mobile is solid, especially in the major metro areas, and their services are generally cheaper than those offered by AT&T.

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DirecTV Now Offer

To get the DirecTV Now offer from T-Mobile, you need to be an AT&T subscriber, should port your existing phone number to T-Mobile, and sign up for a T-Mobile One plan for at least two different lines. The DirecTV Now plan that is included free as part of the T-Mobile offer is worth thirty-five dollars a month. The users will get this as a credit on 12 bills totaling to 420 dollars.

T-Mobile users will be getting the lowest tier of DirecTV Now service, Live a Little pack, which includes 60 channels. If you are an AT&T user, DirecTV Now will cost you thirty-five dollars a month for the base package and you can watch as much as programming as you wish on mobile devices without counting against your data cap.

06 Dec

Cricket Wireless Joins Hands With DirecTV Now

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One of the popular prepaid wireless service providers in the country, Cricket Wireless, has just launched the latest streaming service from AT&T, DirecTV Now. However, this decision from the prepaid wireless provider was expected, as AT&T currently owns the company.

AT&T hopes that the launch of DirecTV Now in Cricket Wireless will draw in more subscribers to the latest streaming service. Nevertheless, reports indicate that there will be a major difference on how DirecTV Now would work on Cricket Wireless and how it would on AT&T internet service.

Cricket Wireless will not be zero-rating the streaming of DirecTV Now. This means that customers will be charged for the service they use. However, AT&T had earlier announced that they would be zero-rating DirecTV Now on AT&T internet network.

Net neutrality supporters severally criticized this decision from the Telco, and AT&T is currently under FCC investigation due to this practice. Yet again, AT&T responded to this criticism by stating that their sponsored zero-rating program is a lot beneficial to subscribers and it is also available to all other third parties.

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Reports say that the promotional incentives, subscription plans, and pricing details offered are exactly the same on both Cricket Wireless and AT&T. But if you are customer, who is planning to stream DirecTV Now through Cricket Wireless, then it is wiser to opt for the “Unlimited” plan, as you will be charged for the data you use. The wireless provider also added that it is best to stream the contents of DirecTV Now over a Wi-Fi connection rather than using your data plan.

The Cricket Wi-Fi app in the Cricket Wireless is an exceptional tool, which helps you to easily discover the Wi-Fi hotspots around your location. Cricket Wireless has also decided to offer the “Go Big” package from DirecTV Now at just $35 a month for a limited period. The normal price customers have to pay for this package after the expiry of limited period is $60 per month.

Four packages are being offered by DirecTV Now to subscribers at present. The basic package offered by the streaming service offers approximately 60 popular channels at an affordable price of $35 per month. The most expensive package from DirecTV costs $70 a month, but it does offer 120 popular channels to subscribers.

23 Nov

Zero-Rating Of DirecTV Now Might Not Be Legal Says FCC

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DirecTV Now Service

It seems that AT&T is trying to change cable TV services forever. They are planning to offer their internet only subscription TV package, DirecTV Now, which offers more than a hundred channels for just thirty-five dollars per month. Experts say that if the pricing and channel selection are interesting as promised by AT&T, it will surely be a massive hit. However, AT&T is also relying on some other things to sell DirecTV Now services; integration with the cell network of AT&T.

Integration with the cell network would let a user stream TV channels on their smartphone or tablets without using up the data plan. This is the type of deal that only AT&T can offer, being the owner of a national mobile and cable network. However, a letter from the Federal Communications Commission say that doing so can be illegal.

In their letter, FCC says that it, “believes that the terms and conditions under which Sponsored Data is offered to content providers unaffiliated with AT&T, combined with their current practice of zero-rating DIRECTV video applications for AT&T Mobility subscribers, may obstruct competition and harm consumers by constraining their ability to access existing and future mobile video services not affiliated with AT&T.”

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Yet again, the problem is not completely with the zero-rating. FCC allows for some data zero-rating if it is equitable across the various content providers. This is the reason the Binge-On program from T-Mobile, which zero-rates data for free from the content providers that take part in the program, is allowed by FCC to continue. However, in the case of DirecTV Now and AT&T, the Commission is much worried about the fairness of the zero-rating program.

AT&T says that their program is legal, as it allows the competitor to pay same amount to DirecTV as zero-rate data. This means that if Netflix wanted the AT&T users to watch shows without losing data, AT&T says Netflix can pay the low wholesale rate as DirecTV to have the chance. FCC says that the important difference here is that Netflix will need to pay AT&T up-front, but DirecTV will be offering an internal transfer of payment.

AT&T responded to the letter from FCC saying, “With our Data Free TV offer, DIRECTV picks up the tab for our Mobility customers’ data use when they’re streaming content… We welcome any video provider that wishes to sponsor its content in the same “data free” way for AT&T Mobility customers and we’ll do so on equal terms at our lowest wholesale rates. Saving consumers money is something we all should support.”

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