Struggling DirecTV is experiencing another noteworthy defection: Dan York, one of the highest-ranking AT&T executives based in El Segundo, is leaving the company after two decades.
AT&T on Thursday confirmed York’s planned March 1 exit.
York has been one of the most powerful executives in television, serving as executive vice president and chief content officer for DirecTV since 2012. He has managed DirecTV’s original programming and distribution efforts, including its marquee attraction, the NFL Sunday Ticket.
The 56-year-old Michigan native also was responsible for DirecTV’s Audience Network, which previously produced original shows, including “Loudermilk” and “Undeniable With Dan Patrick.”
AT&T early this year announced it was pulling the plug on Audience Network’s original content, and would turn the channel into a promotional vehicle for its HBO Max streaming service, which launches in May.
DirecTV, which has struggled since AT&T purchased the company, has lost 4 million customers in the last two years. One of the nation’s largest pay-TV providers, AT&T also faces a major decision about whether to continue DirecTV’s exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package of football games. While still a major asset for DirecTV, the venture is unprofitable for AT&T because of its $1.5-billion annual license fee.
York figured prominently in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department in 2016. Federal prosecutors sued AT&T for its hardball tactics in keeping the Los Angeles Dodgers’ SportsNet LA channel off DirecTV and several other pay-TV systems in Southern California. The move limited fans’ exposure to their favorite baseball team. The Dodgers channel is available on just one pay-TV system: Charter Communications’ Spectrum.
York also was called to defend his internal communications during a high-profile trial in Washington when AT&T was seeking to buy Time Warner, owner of HBO, CNN and the Warner Bros. TV and film studio.
York was not immediately available for comment.
“We appreciate Dan’s many years of service. His contributions significantly shaped our content strategies and we are grateful for his leadership and commitment to providing our customers with their favorite live sports and entertainment,” Thaddeus Arroyo, chief executive of the company’s consumer and communications unit, said in a statement.
Rob Thun, senior vice president of content and programming, is expected to replace York.