The Wall Street Journal report cited knowledgeable sources.
Shares of the Dallas company recently traded at $31.50, up 2.2%. The stock has slid 19% year to date.
AT&T is trying to pare its heavy debt load. DirecTV has struggled since AT&T paid $63 billion for it in 2015. Viewers have fled traditional satellite and cable in favor of Internet streaming to view TV and other video content, a process known as cord-cutting.
The bidders include Churchill Capital IV CCIV, a special purpose acquisition company, and private-equity titan TPG, the sources said.
If AT&T comes to an accord with one of the bidders, a deal may be finalized early next year, the Journal reported.
Morningstar analyst Michael Hodel puts fair value for AT&T at $37, but says DirecTV represents a burden.
“In the years since the deal closed, AT&T has lost about a quarter of its traditional television customer base (DirecTV satellite customers and AT&T’s own U-verse subscribers), with customer losses accelerating sharply recently,” he wrote in an April report.
“About 80% of AT&T’s television customers receive service via satellite, a base particularly susceptible to online competition. … AT&T’s online (over-the-top, or OTT) television offerings have struggled to balance growth and profitability, as competition with new entrants like YouTube (GOOGL) – Get Report and Hulu (DIS) – Get Report remains fierce.”