AT&T said it has set November 30 as the launch date of DirecTV Now, unveiled a new new over-the-top service called FreeVIEW and introduced a promo for the Fullscreen SVOD offering.
DirecTV Now will support four bundle options – starting from more than 60 channels to more than 120 channels. The 100-plus channel bundle (called “Go Big”) will start at $35 per month for a limited time. Customers will get to keep that price for as long as they keep the package, but is “subject only to future reasonable programming price increases applicable to all packages.”
Here’s how those packages stack up:
- Live a Little – $35 per month (60+ channels)
- Just Right – $50 per month (80+ channels)
- Go Big – $60 per month (100+ channels)
- Gotta Have it – $70 per month (120+ channels)
Update: According to this image of a DirecTV Now brochure posted online, Live a Little will include the local feeds of ABC, Fox and NBC in select markets, as well as channels such as Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and ESPN2, FS1, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, TV Land, Nick Jr., E!, Spike, Syfy, TCM, TLC, Univision and VH1, among others.
Just Right will add a mix of regional sports networks, as well as NBCSN, IFC, Cooking Channel, Fusion, Travel Channel, The Weather Channel and GSN and more.
Go Big tacks on channels such as FS2, Golf Channel, NBA TV+, DIY, FXM, FYI, Discovery Family, Oxygen, MTV Classic, Tennis Channel, SundanceTV and BBC World News.
Gotta Have It includes Boomerang, Chiller, El Rey Network, eight channels of Starz Encore, Univision Deportes and others.
AT&T will offer a seven-day free preview of all DirecTV Now packages via DirecTVNow.com and via the service’s Apple and Google Play app. AT&T noted that DirecTV Now will not require contracts, professional installs, credit checks and traditional set-top boxes.
DirecTV Now subs can also add HBO and Cinemax for an additional $5 per month on top of their base program packages. DirecTV Now is getting underway without access to CBS and Showtime, but is in talks to add them to the lineup later.
AT&T also confirmed that DirecTV Now will allow subs to access two concurrent streams per account.
Speaking Monday at a presser in New York about the new trio of OTT services, John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, said this online platform will serve as the “foundation” of how the company will deliver video services in the future.
Stankey, who was standing in front of a slide with the message “Let Freedom Stream,” said the debut of DirecTV Now is “bigger” than AT&T’s debut of U-verse TV in part because it’ll mark the first time the company has control of the full stack down to the end user, including access to data and the underpinning customer experience. He also talked up how the software-centric nature of the service will enable AT&T to rapidly push out new iterations and service features.
“This is just the start,” he said, reiterating that DirecTV Now will go after the 20 million U.S. homes that are not in the pay TV ecosystem today.
That, in part, means DirecTV Now will be going after cord-cutters and cord-nevers – a group that’s also being pursued by Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue, and will be pursued early next year by Hulu’s new virtual MVPD service. YouTube is also developing a pay TV offering called YouTube Unplugged but has not announced many specifics, including a target launch date.
At launch, DirecTV Now will be supported on the Amazon Fire TV box and Fire TV Stick, Android and iOS mobile devices, Apple TV, Google Chromecast (Android, with iOS support coming in 2017), Google Cast-enabled LeEco ecotvs and Vizio SmartCast TVs, and Web browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari).
Next year, DirecTV Now will extend support to Roku players and integrated Roku TVs, Amazon Fire tablets, and smart TVs from Samsung and other yet-to-be-named TV brands.
To help prime the pump, new DirecTV Now subs will get an Apple TV if they pre-pay for three months of the OTT-TV service.
Starting Tuesday (November 29), LeEco is also offering DirecTV Now service with the purchase of the CE giant’s smartphones and TVs. Those buyers will get three months of DirecTV Now with the purchase of the Le S3 and Le Pro3 ecophones or Super4 X43 Pro ecotv, six months of the OTT-TV service when they buy a Super4 X55 or Super4 X65 model ecotv, or a full year of DirecTV Now if they buy the uMax8 ecotv
DirecTV Now is also offering a month of service to consumers who buy a Lenovo laptop with the Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor.
Though DirecTV Now was the headliner for AT&T’s presser, the company also announced that eligible mobile/wireless subs will get a year of free access to Fullscreen, the SVOD service that launched earlier this year for $5.99 per month and now offers 1,500 hours of content.
AT&T will also zero-rate Fullscreen and DirecTV Now data that’s delivered on the carrier’s mobile network.
AT&T’s new FreeVIEW service is an ad-based, curated video service that will offer a sampling of VOD fare from Audience Network, OTT properties from Otter Media (the J.V. of AT&T and The Chernin Group) and other channels on DirecTV Now.
AT&T also announced Taylor Swift NOW, an exclusive, curated video service with that will be offered on all the company’s platforms, including DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse TV, before the end of the year.
Elsewhere on the content front, AT&T and Reese Witherspoon (who spoke at the press event, along with several creators from the youth-focused Fullscreen studio) announced they are working on VOD channel and series that will launch by mid-2017 on DirecTV and DirecTV Now and feature “high quality and exclusive content, especially for fans of female-driven stories” under the Hello Sunshine brand.
Hello Sunshine will continue to operate under Otter Media’s portfolio.