Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Media Merger Mania - What Will Dish Do

Talk about being left out in the cold.  Comcast wants Time Warner Cable and AT&T wants DirecTv.  Charter gets more subscribers from the Comcast merger and ownership in a newly created cable Spinco company.  Some hope that a Sprint and T-Mobile merger will drive more wireless competition to the industry leaders.  And let's not forget Verizon who recently purchased the remainder of its wireless business from former partner Vodafone.  So what about Dish Network?

Certainly Dish tried to merge with DirecTv a decade or more ago but was denied by the FCC.  Different times indeed.  And while they would have loved to do a deal with AT&T, Dish's spectrum business seemed to produce a conflict.  Some hoped that Verizon would respond to say they were interested in Dish, but they were quick to vehemently deny those rumors. So with all the media merger mania occurring, Dish sits like a wallflower on the sidelines.

So what comes next for Dish?  There has been speculation that Dish could make a play for the NFL Sunday Ticket package and wrestle it from DirecTv.  That could both hurt subscribers and give an out to AT&T to terminate their acquisition efforts.  Perhaps other cable companies might be interested in acquiring Dish.  Should Charter have enough access to capital, they might consider making a run at Dish.  Whether the FCC thinks fondly of that deal is unclear.  Cablevision, who once tried their hands at satellite with Voom, might consider a Dish purchase as a means to augment their subscriber numbers as well.  That would certainly propel them into double digit subscriber numbers.  And then there are the hedge fund guys who see future value in picking up Dish for the time being.

For now, Dish sits idly by as the FCC ponders two huge acquisition issues.  But I doubt very much that Dish is being idle.  We shall wait and see what is up their sleeve.