The current uncertainty is what happens when the honeymoon with TPG expires in June of 2024.
To recap, we were bought by AT&T at the peak of our customer saturation point only to quickly fall from that position due to three factors - AT&T had no idea what to do with us so we were underfunded, under promoted and mostly left to rot. The other hits were the dramatic uptick in alternative streaming services that siphoned off the "cool kids" by which I mean we lost a huge chunk of customers in the demographic sweet-spots of 24 to 54 years of age. The average age of our current customer base, at least on the West Coast, is now 71 years old. Hardly a class that excites advertisers to say the least. Lastly, the effects of Covid on the economy drove many former customers to reconsider the cost of our service compared to lesser priced alternatives. This economic realignment continues to this day and if a recession does occur, will serve to only drive these losses further.
Elliot Management and a few other institutional investors led a public revolt of sorts against AT&T prompting them to spin us off. Texas Pacific Group (TPG) created a SPAC to purchase us for quite literally pennies on the dollar. But, TPG only committed to a 36 month ownership timeline. The "soft" date of that ownership was June 1st of last year, so we have less than two years remaining under the jo--t TPG/AT&T plan.
So what happens June of 2024?
That is the question you should focus upon.
The answer is murky and full of speculation.
Some pundits in our Industry tout a full line of business merger with Dish Network in hopes that both can continue to limp along serving mostly the forgotten rural customers who lack access to competitive broadband. Although, we are already seeing Starlink erode that base of customers, at least in my areas.
Others suggest a split with the legacy dish on the roof group merging with Dish while the DTV Stream side remains an independent entity in hopes that it can recapture the coveted customer base that appeals to advertisers - tho that will be heavily dependent on customers willing to pay top-dollar for mostly run-of-the-mill content.
The other probable hit to DIRECTV Streaming will be the acceleration of DTC - Direct to Consumer delivery of content. We are already seeing more content companies touting their own streaming services (Disney +, Discovery +, PBS Passport, Peacock, A&E+, etc.) directly to consumers via very modestly priced Apps which completely bypasses distribution carriers such as ourselves. Should that trend likely continue, then more exclusive and popular programming will bypass us as content creators realize they no longer have to split the revenue with a legacy distributor in order to reach an audience.
Back to your inquiry, yes, there is a wave of hiring at the moment as the TPG checkbook is still open. I would not count on that always being the case as tho no longer publicly disclosed, we still shed upwards of 400,000 customers quarterly. At some point, we fall below the break even point and then all bets are off.