AT&T has quietly launched the streaming version of its premium DirecTV satellite TV service, which it calls AT&T TV.
An AT&T rep told MCN that the service became available this week in New York City, Seattle, Minneapolis and Miami. In August, she said AT&T began “piloting” AT&T Now in nine markets; Orange and Riverside, California; Topeka, Kansas; Wichita, Kansas; El Paso, Texas; Odessa, Texas; Corpus Christi, Texas; St. Louis; Springfield, Missouri; and West Palm Beach, Florida.
The self-installed streaming service, which starts out for $59.99 a month for the first year with a 24-month contract, ships with an Android TV-powered set-top. After the first 12 months, the price of this entry-level “Entertainment” tier elevates to a very linear-pay-TV-like $93 a month.
The Entertainment tier has around 73 channels, including local broadcast stations, as well as ESPN, but no regional sports networks. Not including the Spanish-language-focused Optimo tier, there are four escalating AT&T TV tiers in all, cuitimanating with the $79.99-a-month Ultimate package. Here’s a link to the channel lists.
AT&T comes with a 500 GB cloud DVR. And the 4K-capable Android TV device, which supports popular OTT apps like Netflix, is free. But you only get one—additional devices for secondary viewing rooms costs $10 a month.
AT&T executives have lauded the operational costs improvements of AT&T TV over traditional DirecTV service, noting that they don’t have to launch pricey satellites, or send out truck rolls, to support the product. Also, integration of popular OTT apps—a challenge for traditional managed-service pay-TV offerings—is rather organic, since AT&T TV is and of itself a streaming service.
Shipping with a piece CPE, and including contracts, AT&T TV is not to be confused with AT&T TV Now, the virtual MVPD that AT&T seems to be quietly marginalizing. Indeed, the price of the 45-channel AT&T TV Now base package has swelled to $65 a month, just three years after the service was launched as “DirecTV Now” and priced at $35 a month.
After nearly reaching 2 million users in the third quarter of 2018, AT&T TV Now has been in steady decline, with AT&T cutting it off from the aggressive promotional deals that fueled its early growth. The vMVPD lost another 195,000 customers in the third quarter of this year, and now has around 1.145 million left.