×

AT&T Sets Broad Carriage Renewal Pact With Fox Networks Group

AT&T and Fox Networks Group have quietly concluded a broad renewal agreement for most of Fox Networks Group’s channels on the DirecTV and U-verse platforms.

The deal came together days before the end of DirecTV’s previous pact with Fox. It also was handled with no saber-rattling or public bickering over terms, a notable achievement at a time of heightened competition and business headwinds between large programmers and distributors. DirecTV is facing a number of big renegotiations with major content providers in the coming year, including Viacom. It’s understood that the AT&T-Fox talks were long, arduous and tense at times but were never in danger of boiling over in public.

Fox is awaiting its takeover by Disney early next year. The multi-year deal covers a mix of 21st Century Fox assets that will be sold to Disney — including FX Networks and National Geographic — and those that will stay behind with the Murdochs’ new spin on Fox, including Fox Sports 1 and 2 and the 28 O&O stations reaching 17 major markets. AT&T gets live, on demand and streaming rights for DirecTV, the DirecTV Now OTT service and the dwindling U-verse telco service. AT&T has been de-emphasizing U-verse since it acquired DirecTV in 2015.

Fox News is the not covered in the new deal. AT&T already has a long-term deal with cable news powerhouse which in the past had negotiated most carriage deals separately from its Fox sibling cablers.

“We are pleased to have closed a multi-year deal with Fox for their entire array of content. Our customers will continue to enjoy their programming live and on-demand on all their devices, both at home and on-the-go,” said Daniel York, chief content officer and senior exec VP for AT&T Communications. “Fox has worked with us in this deal to deliver more choice for consumers and better value to AT&T customers.”

AT&T may hope to send a message to other programmers by navigating a no-fireworks negotiation with Fox Networks Group. Fox has not been shy about going into PR battles with other MVPDs, including Comcast and Altice, in recent months.

At the same time, DirecTV’s behavior with rival programmers is under scrutiny as it absorbs Time Warner after the hard-fought merger battle in Washington, and a pending appeal by the government. AT&T is also under pressure from investors to deliver growth to justify its $85.4 billion Time Warner acquisition, which was completed in June. All of this comes at a time when DirecTV’s subscriber base is slowly but steadily shrinking. The satcaster has about 25 million video subscribers in the U.S. and Latin America; it shed 359,000 video subs in the third quarter, the company reported in October.

“We’re pleased to expand our partnership with AT&T through this wide-ranging agreement which ensures that our top-rated entertainment and sports programming will remain broadly available to DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse customers for the foreseeable future,” said Mike Biard, Fox Network Group president of distribution.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • David Koch Obit

    David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

    David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79. According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, [...]

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

  • Pod Save America Hosts on Trump

    'Pod Save America' Hosts on Trump, the Democratic Primary and What's Wrong With Cable News

    Like many Democrats, Tanya Somanader was blindsided by the 2016 presidential election. A veteran of the Obama White House and a former speechwriter and digital specialist for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Somanader was gearing up for a Hillary Clinton administration. Instead, she had to grapple with the reality of a Donald Trump presidency. “A lot [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein to Be Arraigned on New Indictment

    Harvey Weinstein is set to appear in court on Monday for an arraignment on a new indictment, the Manhattan D.A.’s office said Thursday. Prosecutors announced last week that they would seek a fresh indictment, which would allow actress Annabella Sciorra to testify at Weinstein’s trial. The move came after Justice James Burke ruled on Aug. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content