AT&T is reportedly considering selling DirecTV, but no deal is imminent

Key Points
  • AT&T is considering selling DirecTV, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
  • AT&T shares rose 1% after hours on the report.
  • Shares of Dish rose 4% as the Journal reported AT&T was also considering combining DirecTV with Dish.
A pedestrian walks in front of an AT&T location in New York.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

AT&T is considering selling DirecTV, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The telecom giant has weighed several options, the Journal reported, including breaking off DirecTV into its own company and combining DirecTV with Dish Network.

Following the Journal report, however, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters that AT&T and Dish were not in talks over the deal, due to regulatory issues. And CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin has learned that no action on DirecTV is imminent.

AT&T shares rose 1% after hours on the report. Shares of Dish rose 4%.


Following the publication of the Journal article, Reuters ⁠— citing a source familiar with the matter ⁠— reported that AT&T Inc and Dish Network Corp are not in discussions over a deal, due to regulatory issues.

When asked about a combined DirecTV and Dish, AT&T CFO John Stephens made the following comment at last week's Bank of America/Merrill Lynch conference:

"So there's been some stories out there about the industrial logic about putting two satellite providers. That's been tried from a regulatory perspective. It hasn't been successful and I don't know that there's any change in that regulatory perspective. So understanding industrial logic, put quite frankly, it's been tried and has been rejected."

AT&T declined to comment on the report. Dish had no comment on the story.

DirecTV has been bleeding satellite TV subscribers with users shifting to cheaper online streaming services like Netflix Inc and Inc's Prime service.

AT&T lost 778,000 premium TV subscribers, which includes DirecTV users in the second quarter, more than the 544,000 it lost in the prior quarter, and expects the video losses to continue in the current quarter.

Elliot Management, which owns a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T, has pushed the company to divest from DirecTV. AT&T is trying to circumvent pay TV with HBO Max.

The hedge fund urged the company to end its acquisition spree to focus on improving its business, while criticizing the $85 billion purchase of media company TimeWarner last year and the $49 billion deal for DirecTV in 2015.

—CNBC's Alex Sherman and Reuters contributed to this report.

CNBC Markets Now: September 18, 2019