AT&T Acquisition of DirecTV Seems Likely, for Good Reasons

As a rule of thumb, I tend to assume U.S. regulators will nix any acquisition by a market leader that produces an outcome where a single entity controls more than 30 percent national market share.

That math suggested Comcast would not be allowed to buy Time Warner Cable, since Comcast’s share of high speed Internet access would exceed 57 percent.

The only issue, after the Federal Communications Commission raised the definition of broadband to a minimum of 25 Mbps, was how much higher Comcast’s share would grow.

By way of contrast, an AT&T that has acquired DirecTV would still only have a maximum of 17 percent share of the U.S. Internet access market. The actual share, under the new 25-Mbps definition, is not clear, but would be less than 17 percent. And linear video share would not exceed 27 percent, in a line of business universally recognized to be declining, in any case.

That is why rumors of merger approval seem logical. Even if the acquisition consolidates one of the major linear video providers, the new entity has 27 percent market share, and faces almost-certain declines over the next five to 10 years.
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