AT&T to Target Cord Cutters With Late 2016 Launch of 'DirecTV Now' Streaming Video Service

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AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson today confirmed that the company is planning to launch an online streaming video service, called DirecTV Now, sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016 (via CNET). Featuring "very, very aggressive price points," the service is said to include more than 100 premium channels and will come in app form on smartphones, tablets, and set-top boxes, although the specifics of the launch were kept to a minimum.

Stephenson remarked on the company's ability to introduce the service at a low price point, due to the fact that DirecTV Now won't require customer visits and installation, and "all of the ordering, customer service and billing is done digitally, reducing the need for more traditional tech support." The streaming service will also provide the option between one and two streams per household, with customers able to increase simultaneous streaming by paying a little more each month.

directv-now

Cord cutters have seen an explosion of options when it comes to streaming video, including services like Hulu, Netflix and HBO Go. But cobbling these services together is costly and complicated, which is why many consumers still stick with the easier package deal of a cable subscription.

AT&T believes it can offer something more attractive. The company plans to initially go after the 20 million households with no pay TV subscription, Stephenson said. When asked if DirecTV Now could threaten its traditional DirecTV business, Stephenson acknowledged some risk. But "that's a good sign," he said.

"If you don't see them threatening your legacy products, 99 percent of the time they don't go anywhere," he said. "It means you found something the market really wants."

Users will also be able to bundle DirecTV Now into the company's broadband and mobile services, and all of the various aspects of AT&T's offerings will work in the same ecosystem, so customers who stream DirecTV Now on their smartphone won't get hit with data overcharges.

AT&T has struck deals with Disney and HBO for its new streaming platform, but Stephenson noted that a few "holdouts" still remain, preventing DirecTV Now from a more immediate launch. Still, the CEO said the content deals process is around 90 percent done. By the time customers begin signing up for the service after its late-2016 launch, Stephenson thinks that "in 2017, this will be a big driver of video for us."

The amount of video streaming apps and services has been growing steadily over the past few years, and new companies consistently announce their presence in the space. This year, Hulu confirmed an upcoming live cable TV service, and premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz each have their own content specific, monthly subscription services that range between $9 and $15. Apple was even attempting to get a similar $30-$40 web-based TV package launched last year, but failed deals with networks caused the company to put its plans on hold.

Tags: AT&T, DirecTV

Top Rated Comments

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51 months ago
They're co-opting the whole idea behind cord-cutting by making it all about the content delivery system.

The real point of cord cutting is the ability to pick and choose the content one wants available in their own house (or on the go on their mobile devices). Selling the traditional cable "package" in a different form isn't really addressing the real desires of cord-cutters.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago
Cord cutter checking in! :)

1. I'm not interested in channels, I'm interested in shows. Frankly I don't care at all what channel a show is on and any discussion of "channels" is missing the point entirely.
2. I'm not interested in network scheduling. I watch the next episode for a show when I am ready for it and not a minute different.
3. I'm not interested in paying for something that contains commercials. It's an either/or proposition. I don't expect ads in ANY product I pay for.

All of the above concerns are already addressed today by Netflix, etc. If AT&T can't at least match the existing competition then I'm not interested.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago

Yeah ill stick to KODI. Free sports and all the movies and tv shows i want to watch commercial free.

You consider stealing content to be free?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago

Hopefully with better pricing, content, and UI than Sling.tv. Cancelled that after about 5 minutes.

I'd looked at Sling but haven't tried it yet. What was your experience with it?

If DirecTV gets me a bunch of good channels for an EXTREMELY reasonable price that doesn't require a cable package, doesn't require installation, and is 100% transparent about its pricing, I'd be happy to take a look. Forgive me for being skeptical, but AT&T/DirecTV don't really have a history of doing any of those things. I'll believe it when I see it.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago

My wife and I were just talking about ditching DirecTV yesterday because the fee ($90/month) is crazy considering we usually watch the same 10 or 15 channels in any given month. I would pay $20/month for the 10 or 15 channels that we care about vs. $90/month for those same 10 or 15 channels plus 140 more that we couldn't care less about.

That's part of the problem, the misconception that all channels are created equal. From the content providers' view they are not, which is why you have CBS trying to get away with charging $10 a month for their one channel alone. Chances are the 10-15 channels you care about are higher value (ESPN, Disney, CBS) and you will never be offered a slim package that ala carte gives you the same for less cost.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
51 months ago

They're co-opting the whole idea behind cord-cutting by making it all about the content delivery system.

The real point of cord cutting is the ability to pick and choose the content one wants available in their own house (or on the go on their mobile devices). Selling the traditional cable "package" in a different form isn't really addressing the real desires of cord-cutters.

Yes, I didn't pay for it therefor its free to me

No. it is theft. And the only reason you feel otherwise is your perception that somehow you are entitled to it. Even if you don't admit it, you and those that liked your post think somehow tv/movies should be given to you wherever and whenever you please.

And because you sit in your home and enjoy anonymity. You are not like other criminals that do it face to face.

You are the same.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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