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AT&T To Gradually Phase Out DirecTV Branding

December 3, 2015 - Written By David Steele

Earlier in the year, one of America’s largest two carriers, AT&T, spent $49 billion acquiring DirecTV, the satellite television operator. AT&T then added signs that state DirecTV is a part of the AT&T family, but an article from the Wall Street Journal claims that the carrier will phase out these signs in favor of adding the AT&T globe next to the DirecTV name. It is set to add the same globe next to the AT&T U-verse service too. We understand that AT&T’s ultimate plan is to merge these two video services into a single service in either 2017 or 2018 and as part of this, it is planning to remove the DirecTV name. In a memo, AT&T explained that they are to “transition all TV product names to AT&T Entertainment to symbolize our move to a single entertainment portfolio.”

AT&T Entertainment is a less catchy name than DirecTV: it’s straight to the point, but it will take AT&T some time before this happens. A spokesman confirmed that the DirecTV branding “isn’t going away in January” and will be with us “for the foreseeable future.” Of course, a big part of the acquisition of DirecTV is the branding and name recognition that comes with this and AT&T have been carefully considering their options. This said, AT&T is a master of acquiring names with strong brand presence and ultimately removing the branding – witness Cingular, SBC and BellSouth, which over the years have had their branding removing. In the case of DirecTV, the business has spent a considerable sum on promoting the brand. According to Kantar Media, DirecTV spent $355 million in 2014 on branding and similar exercises, compared with AT&T’s $84 million for AT&T U-Verse.

Some industry experts believe AT&T should stick with the core brand and dispose of the DirecTV moniker sooner rather than later. Allen Adamson, former chairman of Landor North America, the branding firm, said this on the matter: “They’re going to win or lose based on AT&T.” He did concede that the DirecTV has “some nostalgic value.” AT&T have also revealed that they are to concentrate on their core customers and not worry so much about the noise of a competitive market; part of this is likely to include solid discounts for customers taking DirecTV and AT&T service at the same time.