Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Dish Network chairman sees opportunity for DirecTV merger

Note: DirecTV numbers include DirecTV Stream and Dish numbers include Sling TV; Data: Leichtman Research Group; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Twenty years after federal regulators eighty-sixed a merger between Dish Network and DirecTV, Dish's chairman said he believes the company would have no problem clearing antitrust regulators today.

Why it matters: The erosion of the linear TV bundle means that the main argument against the two companies joining forces — that it would reduce options for customers — probably wouldn't hold up.

💭 Tim's thought bubble: You could argue that a merger is vital for the survival of each to compete against bigger cable providers and streaming services.

Driving the news: Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen said Wednesday that following next week's midterm elections, there will be a small window of opportunity.

  • "You're hesitant to be a political football for somebody to complain about big companies or whatever in an election cycle. But that election cycle is over next week. And then you have a window, where I think all companies are looking at M&A," Ergen said during the company's earnings call. 
  • "In terms of a legal objection to a merger, that's been diminished by time and obviously [by] the degradation of the linear TV business and competition from dozens of companies in the OTT business and the proliferation of broadband today," he added.
Go deeper