Advanced Television

Dish and DirecTV: What about the satellites?

January 18, 2022

At the moment, any merger plan between Dish Network and AT&T’s DirecTV is just behind the scenes talk. But it could happen, and if so, how would the pair start saving cash?

The usual synergy promises will trim head-count and the marketing and advertising budgets would be trimmed. But what about those orbital assets? The giant satellites that serve the ever-dwindling subscriber numbers?

Craig Moffett, telecom analyst and founder of the research firm MoffettNathanson, noted last week in an interview with Barrons, that the two satellite systems are incompatible, meaning both companies would need to keep their satellite constellations in place.

Indeed, neither service has added satellites in the last five years, Moffett states, and three to four years from now, Dish will have just one satellite within its expected useful lifespan. Moffett suggests that both services will eventually fade away as their satellites fail. “No one thinks there is any economic sense in launching new satellites,” he argues.

Dish Network’s orbiting assets are maintained via Charlie Ergen’s EchoStar business and a spokesman says the key assets have life left in them (see below).

Both Dish and DirecTV have moved aggressively into OTT transmissions (Dish via its Sling TV and Dish Anywhere systems) and DirecTV using AT&T’s DirecTV Mobile, Stream, U-Verse and ‘NOW’ services.

Specifically, following AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV and subsequent launch of DirecTV 16 the company said it did not have plans to launch any new satellites.

In other words, any link between the two would likely only lead to a greater thrust towards OTT supply and – over time – a complete departure from satellite supplied programming.

The current EchoStar fleet* comprises:

· EchoStar IX (Galaxy 23) A j-v with Intelsat, launched in 2003

· EchoStar XV launched 2010

· EchoStar XVII (Jupiter 1) launched in 2012

· EchoStar XIX (Jupiter 2) launched in 2016

· EchoStar XXI launched in 2017 (serves S-band over Europe)

· EchoStar 105/SES-11 Owned by SES, launched in 2017

*There are other Dish Network services from the likes of Anik F3, Ciel-2, Nimiq 5

DirecTV also has a few tired and aging assets in its fleet including Galaxy 3C owned by Intelsat and leased by DirecTV.

· DirecTV 5 launched 2002

· DirecTV 8 launched 2005

· DirecTV 9S launched 2006

· DirecTV 10 launched 2007

· DirecTV 11 launched 2008

· DirecTV 12 launched 2009

· DirecTV 14 launched 2015

· DirecTV 16 launched 2019

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