Hoping to stake out the pole position in the Convergence Derby, AT&T has reportedly approached DirecTV to talk about an acquisition. Earlier this week, the telecom and cable giant announced it was butting into the airborne broadband business.
If AT&T manages to acquire DirecTV, it will be roughly the same size as Comcast will be if it completes its merger with Time Warner Cable.
The rumored deal comes as cable, telecom and satellite companies face several grim realities: the satellite TV market is beginning to shrink; the cable TV market has just about maxed out its growth; and, most significantly, new players like Netflix and Amazon are becoming major content providers and are using streaming video to get around the cable-satellite stranglehold.
What all this urge to merge means for the consumer is always open to question. The stock answer is that having fewer, bigger companies leads to less competition and higher prices.
But an opinion piece in today's Bloomberg News takes the opposite tack.
"What a customer can ultimately get out of these mergers is seamless connectivity. With a single contract and a single set of credentials entered into a device such as a laptop, smartphone or tablet, you will eventually stop paying attention to how you are connected and what you're connected to," Bloomberg contributor Leonid Bershidsky writes.
Could be. It's a bit early in the game to worry excessively, since any deal is likely at least a year away from consummation and would no doubt face energetic regulatory scrutiny and organized opposition from consumer groups.