Top stories of 2009: Telco-satellite partnerships remain aloft

In early 2009, AT&T finally put all of its satellite TV resale efforts behind one company, DirecTV. That made DirecTV the satellite resale partner for the three largest telcos, while Dish Network played the partner role for several smaller and independent telcos.

The AT&T deal initially provided a nice boost for DirecTV, and a slip in Dish's subscriber numbers, but by the latter part of the year, even DirecTV acknowledged that the biggest gains from their telco partnerships likely were in the past. Meanwhile, Dish sister company EchoStar won many deals with small telcos who needed programming and distribution help after SES Americom's IP-Prime wholesale effort ended.

For most telcos, satellite TV continued to be an important part of their offerings, regardless of how successful their own telco TV efforts were. Telus and Cavalier Telephone were among the telcos with existing TV services that also decided to resell satellite TV this year. Increasingly successful service bundles also leaned on satellite TV offerings, and though as DirecTV hinted, the honeymoon period of satellite TV-telco partnerships may be over, the marriage could be just beginning. Throughout the year, many observers speculated that AT&T or Verizon Communications could end up acquiring DirecTV (Verizon refuted the speculation). Such a buyout would be an interesting turn for this successful form of cross-market partnership.

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