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 Post Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:04 am 
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Satellite-television providers, which shook up the pay-TV industry in the 1990s by luring millions of customers away from cable companies, are now struggling to adjust to the technology of the 2010s.

As more Americans shun pricey TV subscriptions and watch video over the Internet, DirecTV (DTV) and Dish Network Corp. (DISH) are at risk of eventually becoming obsolete. They don’t offer the same high-speed broadband service as their cable and telecom rivals, making it harder to adapt to the world of Web-based television, where robust Internet access is a must.

To cope, DirecTV is working to build its own Web-TV service after losing out on a bid to buy Hulu LLC. Dish, meanwhile, sees salvation in becoming a wireless carrier -- something it tried and failed to accomplish with a Sprint Nextel Corp. takeover this year. Neither approach is a slam dunk because they’re playing catch-up with more established players, and merger partners that could help their efforts are scarce.

“The end game is near,” said Todd Lowenstein, a portfolio manager at Highmark Capital Management, which owns about 450,000 DirecTV shares. “You have a mature and really structurally challenged satellite-TV business. Both companies are thinking about their next steps now.”

DirecTV and Dish have more than 34 million pay-TV customers between them. While they aren’t losing television subscribers at the rates of their cable rivals, they lack other services to insulate them from the industry’s decline.


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