FTC To Scrutinize Big Tech’s Smaller Acquisitions Of Yore; AT&T Adds New Set-Top TV Service

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Let’s Review

Big tech companies are going under the microscope for some of their smaller, long-ago acquisitions. The FTC said it would conduct a review of deals that have been approved, particularly targeting low-cap deals that provided vast power in the market. And last week, Bloomberg reported that Invite Media had trimmed assets and burnt cash in 2010, before it was acquired by Google, so that it slipped beneath the FTC’s radar. Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook acquired more than 350 companies over the past decade that were too small to qualify for antitrust review. FTC Chairman Joe Simons said he won’t rule out enforcement actions or forced divestitures after the review is complete. But it’s hard to split up companies many years after their integration. “I think it is challenging but realistic to change the rules going forward to allow for more scrutiny. It is much more difficult to unwind transactions that are many years old,” Bill Baer, DOJ antitrust chief under the Obama administration, told Axios. More.

More TV Please

DirecTV customers are dropping satellite TV, so AT&T is introducing a new kind of set-top box device to attract cord cutters, the Wall Street Journal reports. AT&T TV, launched Monday, is a set-top box offering that streams live TV over the internet alongside SVOD and AVOD apps. Its basic package includes more than 100 channels at $49.99 per month, and comes with a Google Assistant integration. The new box can be self-installed, making it much cheaper to set up than a satellite dish. And for AT&T, the service will be cheaper to go to market – DirecTV spent $800 on average to acquire every single new customer it gained last year. And because AT&T TV comes via broadband internet, subscribers to rival MVPD providers could also sign up. AT&T TV adds another service to the telco’s slew of video offerings. “This is where the market is headed,” said Jeff McElfresh, who heads up AT&T’s communication division. More.

Fighting On The Links

Since 2016, Kochava and LiveRamp have been in a legal dispute over who owns the rights to the “IdentityLink” trademark. Kochava asserts it introduced an IdentityLink product in 2011. Five years later, LiveRamp tried to register the “IdentityLink” trademark, but was opposed by Kochava. Last year, LiveRamp filed a countersuit claiming that Kochava has acted in bad faith in regards to its IdentityLink product name to pursue its legal complaint. And last week, Kochava filed a counterclaim of its own after the companies failed to come to terms in mediation, Adweek reports. More.

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