DISH Network has found itself in many a news headline over the last few months. 2019 has been a big year for the satellite carrier. Most notably, the deal between DISH, Sprint and T-Mobile puts DISH in the enviable position of becoming a major wireless carrier almost overnight.
The U.S. Department of Justice giving the Sprint/T-Mobile merger its seal of approval makes it all but certain that DISH will be the beneficiary of wireless assets from both companies. That means DISH will begin to focus more on building out their own 5G infrastructure and getting their wireless service offerings into the market.
Where does that leave DISH Network’s satellite services? Recent reports indicate that DISH may be in talks to sell their satellite TV services. Apollo Global Management is a private equity firm that is rumored to be looking to purchase both DISH Network’s satellite services and AT&T’s own satellite service, DirecTV.
Those who follow this space closely will remember that AT&T purchased bought DirecTV back in 2015 for a cool $49 billion. Not long after that, AT&T also decided to purchase Time Warner for an even more staggering $89 billion. Those two purchases alone sent AT&T’s debt load through the roof in a relatively short amount of time.
That’s why a purchase like the recent reports suggest actually make a lot of sense. If Apollo Global Management makes this purchase they’ll immediately allow AT&T to unload roughly $20 billion worth of debt.
This sale also makes sense from the perspective of DISH Network. DISH CEO, Charlie Ergen, has long made it clear that he wants DISH to focus less on their satellite business, and more on wireless and 5G. In fact, Ergen has publicly talked about his interest in merging DirecTV and DISH Network in the past.
Fox, the network that broke this story, reached out to AT&T which told them that they had received the offer but there were no active discussions ongoing.
Philip Swann, editor and publisher of TVAnswerman.com, spoke with USA Today about the rumored merger between DirecTV and DISH. “I think a Dish-DirecTV merger would reduce choice for rural residents, particularly those who don’t have access to high-speed internet service,” said Swann. “They now depend on DirecTV or Dish for basic and/or premium TV service.”
A deal of this magnitude would certainly shape the future of broadcasting space in the United States. While satellite-television services are not as popular as the once were, millions of subscribers around the country still rely on. By merging the two most popular satellite services those subscribers are the ones who are going to come out on top. This is certainly a story to keep an eye on.