Is honeymoon over for telcos, satellite TV?

Satellite TV provider DirecTV, which has resale partnerships with the three largest U.S. telcos, indicated earlier this month that the initial surge of new customers that came through those partnerships has slowed recently. That indication, which came via comments from DirecTV CFO Patrick Doyle at an investor conference, should not come as too much of a surprise. You go on a honeymoon, and then the honeymoon's over, and you get back to real life (Mrs. FierceIPTV will no doubt punch me when she reads this).

But, the honeymoon that the telcos and their satellite partners have enjoyed has lasted longer than most honeymoons. Occasionally, you can find a story--like a recent item in the Orange County Register--that talks about users switching from satellite TV service to a non-satellite, wireline-based telco TV service, but for the most part telcos and satellite players have worked well together against a common cable TV foe.

The question for telcos and their satellite TV partners is whether or not growth of TV customers through satellite resale will continue to decline. If it does, it could say something about the state of availability of wireline-based telco TV services, and could signal that those wireline-based offerings are maturing.

But, the other factor here is the service bundle. Adoption of telco service bundles has increased gradually, but I think recent comments by the CEOs of Verizon Communications and AT&T suggest that they are set to strengthen their marketing of service bundles. That could mean good things for all telco TV offerings, but in particular satellite TV-DSL pairings as customers continue to shop around for cheaper deals. (Verizon just yesterday followed through on this expectation by cutting the price of its "Better Triple Play" deal, which includes DirecTV.) Maybe the satellite resale packages have another surge left in them.

The months ahead may show if the telco-satellite honeymoon is really over, or if those newlyweds have decided to put off their flight back to reality, and decided to stay in paradise.

- Dan

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