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DirecTV begins issuing pink slips to managers

Around 200 middle-management workers will be let go as part of the layoffs.

Around 200 middle-management workers will be let go as part of the layoffs.

A DirecTV satellite installation van in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan.
A DirecTV satellite installation van in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. (Photo by Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

Satellite and streaming television provider DirecTV will lay off about 10 percent of its managerial workforce in the coming weeks as part of a broader move to reduce expenses amid rising programming costs and high customer churn.

The layoffs began in the middle of last week, and will impact around 200 managers at the company, which was spun off from AT&T nearly two years ago.

The Desk began noticing some AT&T employees updating their profile on LinkedIn to reflect job losses, with some requesting their network pass along new opportunities to them.

Affected employees will remain at work until January 20, the financial news website CNBC reported on Wednesday.

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“The entire pay-TV industry is impacted by the secular decline and the increasing rates to secure and distribute programming,” a spokesperson for DirecTV said in a statement. “We’re adjusting our operations costs to align with these changes and will continue to invest in new entertainment products and service enhancements.”

Like others in the pay television space, DirecTV has been afflicted with higher customer turnover as programmers who own broadcast and cable networks demand higher fees for their channels. Those higher fees are passed on to consumers in the form of higher bills. DirecTV’s satellite and streaming services are some of the most-expensive in the industry.

DirecTV has not released updated subscriber figures since the company broke off from AT&T in 2021. (While they are separate operations, AT&T still owns 70 percent of DirecTV.) But a report by research firm Fitch Ratings last December claimed DirecTV lost around 500,000 subscribers during its most-recent financial quarter. Across its three video products — which includes customers who still pay for AT&T U-Verse — DirecTV has around 13.3 million subscribers, making it the third-biggest pay television company in the country, Fitch said.

Some pay television companies have sought to offset revenue losses in the video space by building out their broadband Internet network and signing partnerships with Verizon and others to offer private-label wireless phone service to subscribers.

DirecTV is an outlier in the pay television space, in that it has no other product besides premium video to offer subscribers. Instead, it has focused on shifting customers away from its satellite service toward DirecTV Stream, which offers many of the same cable and broadcast channels delivered over the Internet.

Pay television services like DirecTV Stream are becoming a tougher sell on customers as programmers like Paramount Global, Comcast’s NBC Universal and the Walt Disney Company shift more of its content wway from traditional linear channels toward their own streaming-only offerings.

Hulu, a streaming service majority-owned by Disney, offers streaming access to most prime-time shows from ABC, FX and Fox one day after they air on linear television. Paramount Global’s Paramount Plus offers on-demand content from CBS, Comedy Central and other Paramount-owned networks; some subscribers also get live access to a local CBS station or affiliate. Comcast’s Peacock is similar to Paramount Plus, but with NBC Universal content and channels.

One thing keeping customers locked in to DirecTV: Access to live, out-of-market National Football League games aired on CBS and Fox stations and affiliates on Sundays during the regular season. But that perk will soon go away: The NFL Sunday Ticket was a DirecTV exclusive for nearly two decades; this year, the NFL announced the package was moving exclusively to Google’s YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels, starting next year.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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