More Americans have watched the U.S. soccer team in this World Cup than ever before. The two biggest announced acquisitions in the world this year are for U.S. pay-TV operators. Yes, there is a connection.
AT&T Inc.?s bid for DirecTV, and Comcast Corp.?s merger with Time Warner Cable Inc., totaling a combined $134 billion, are tied together by a thread that today is driving many of the decisions in the world of pay-TV: Sports.
AT&T will buy DirecTV only if the satellite-TV provider renews its exclusive Sunday night package of football games. Time Warner Cable is selling because it?s losing customers rebelling against high cable bills — caused in part by the soaring cost of obtaining sports rights. The two deals are prime examples of how sports programming?s immense popularity has become both the cause of, and solution to, pay-TV?s slowdown. The result: More media consolidation is on the way.
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