AT&T-DirecTV partnership just foreplay?

Late last year, many on Wall Street were anticipating and predicting that AT&T would acquire EchoStar, the company that owned satellite TV player and AT&T partner Dish Network. That deal never happened, and this week, AT&T said it is planning its satellite TV future with new partner DirecTV. It didn't take long for news of that partnership to generate speculation that perhaps the current deal is just a prelude to AT&T acquiring DirecTV.

It is true that buying a satellite operator would immediately allow AT&T--or any other telco for that matter--to own a TV subscriber base numbering in the millions. With IPTV growing, the need for satellite partners seems to have only short-term importance, but what if a major telco like AT&T bought a satellite firm and effectively began to tout satellite as its primary current and future video strategy, rather than IPTV? Such a move would change everything, not only the future IPTV investment plans of AT&T, but also the entire IPTV ecosystem.

We're not saying it's going to happen (because those who predicted AT&T would buy Dish look pretty silly now), but it's an interesting what-if scenario.

For more:
- see this report at The Wall Street Journal

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