Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
11 March 2020
The DirecTV brand is being left to die
The DirecTV brand is dying and AT&T, its parent company, is letting it go, effectively abandoning it to focus its efforts on the upcoming AT&T TV streaming service. Since 2014, four million people have cancelled DirecTV as more and more people cut the dish for streaming services. And, in case you forgot, AT&T paid $49 billion for DirecTV.
The DirecTV brand is not completely being abandoned as AT&T will continue to sell it, particularly in areas without reliable broadband connections. But for all practical purposes, as if the shedding of 4 million customers wasn’t an indication, DirecTV is spinning down the drain.
And of course it should be. DirecTV feels like old antiquated technology. I’m sure if you asked my kids, DirecTV represents dad climbing on the roof in a thunderstorm to adjust the antenna to see a nationally televised college football game. The DirecTV brand doesn’t feel any different than outdated brands like Radio Shack and Blackberry anymore.
I wondered what AT&T’s plans were for DirecTV back in 2015. The writing was on the wall that streaming was taking over. By that time, Netflix sported nearly 75 million customers worldwide. Today, it has 167 million subscribers. What could AT&T be thinking five years ago?
It created a flanker brand called DirecTV Now, which was a completely separate streaming-based service. But it never took off because the DirecTV brand didn’t own permission to be a streaming service and its pricing structure was screwy. It could have adjusted, but never put in the hard work of finding the emotional connection to audiences that would allow it.
The DirecTV brand never adjusted to market expectations
Now comes AT&T TV Now. And if you are confused by how that works, you aren’t alone.
The DirecTV brand stinks of a bygone era. And like Blackberry, it had an opportunity to change and adapt, but it never took the initiative. It just laid there like a slug. Like Randy from A Christmas Story evading the bullies.
“The DirecTV brand is fated to join Blackberry and Radio Shack as once-powerful brands whose technology and meaning were left to die.”
You’d think AT&T would have the foresight to see what was coming. AT&T Now shows it never knew what to do with DirecTV.
DirecTV isn’t quite dead yet. But I do wonder what will happen the next time AT&T negotiates with the content providers. Even NFL Sunday Ticket won’t save it as the league negotiates new deals soon. Also, until broadband is in rural areas, the need for DirecTV will still exist – for a little while.
But not so long. The DirecTV brand is fated to join Blackberry and Radio Shack as once-powerful brands whose technology and meaning were left to die.
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