AT&T’s deal to acquire DirecTV for $48.5 billion will significantly expand AT&T’s reach, adding more than 38 million digital TV customers and allowing the combined company to offer even larger bundles of services, spanning broadband, video and wireless.
Coupled with Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable, the new deal could also lead to further consolidation in the industry, making regulators look more favorably on a potential combination of T-Mobile US and Sprint to make sure that AT&T has strong competition.
That’s one takeaway after yesterday’s announcement of the AT&T-DirecTV deal.
“For Sprint and T-Mobile, we actually believe this news helps (not hurts) their cause for a potential merger. While we recognize that the AT&T/DirecTV merger is a vertical deal and does not take out a competitor, we think the size of the resulting company very much shines the light on the lack of scale Sprint and T-Mobile would have in this changing world,” said Jennifer Fritzsche, a Wells Fargo analyst, in a research note quoted by ZDNet this morning.
AT&T and T-Mobile have had plenty of experience with these reviews through AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile in 2011, which was ultimately blocked by regulators.
A combination of Sprint and Bellevue-based T-Mobile has been brewing for much of the year. Regulators initially were skeptical about the deal, which would combine the third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless carriers.
However, more recently the climate seems to be warming, with T-Mobile execs telling Re/code recently that a combination “would allow a disruptive player to become even more disruptive” by bringing T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” approach to more customers.
T-Mobile has been steadily adding customers through a series of initiatives designed to challenge its larger rivals and disrupt the way the industry works.