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February 23, 2021
AT&T TV, now AT&T's primary OTT-TV service, is pushing ahead with a couple of upgrades that vastly expand the number of simultaneous streams allowed per account as well as the amount of storage hours for the service's premium-level cloud DVR.
Starting this Thursday, February 25, AT&T TV customers will have access to 20 simultaneous streams across all devices accessing the service in the home, up from a previous limit of three simultaneous streams. AT&T said the upgrade, provided at no added charge for AT&T TV customers on month-to-month or longer-term contracts, followed feedback from subscribers seeking more streams. AT&T TV customers can still stream up to three devices at the same time while out of the home.
Figure 1: Updates and enhancements to AT&T TV follow a recent move to halt sales of AT&T TV Now, and take shape soon after YouTube TV announced a wave of add-ons and updates.
(Image source: AT&T)
There are some contractual wrinkles with this upgrade. AT&T noted that some networks are excluded from the 20 in-home stream upgrade, including the Fox networks, Starz, NHL Network, Showtime and PBS.
Additionally, AT&T TV customers who take the 500-hour cloud DVR package will auto-upgrade to unlimited cloud DVR storage, with the caveat that recordings expire after 90 days. The unlimited cloud DVR service sells for an additional $10 per month; customers on AT&T TV's no-contract service get 20 hours of cloud DVR storage included.
Both the in-home streaming and cloud DVR upgrades also apply only to a subset of AT&T TV customers, as the company confirmed that they won't apply to customers on a grandfathered AT&T TV Now plan. AT&T halted sales of AT&T TV Now (a no-contract, slimmed down pay-TV service that was once known as DirecTV Now) last month as the company effectively tries to merge all of its OTT-TV services under the AT&T TV umbrella.
AT&T is introducing these upgrades nearly a year after AT&T TV, a pay-TV service that supports an operator-supplied Android TV box along with apps for several retail streaming platforms, became available nationwide.
OTT-TV product upgrades pick up steam
The updates also emerge as AT&T TV and other virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) explore perks and enhancements aimed at customer retention and acquisition.
AT&T TV will no doubt try to use these new features to help get the service back into positive subscriber growth territory – AT&T lost 27,000 OTT video subs in Q4 2020 (a big improvement over a loss of 219,000 in the year-ago period), ending the year with 656,000.
Meanwhile, YouTube TV recently introduced a batch of add-on features, including access to 4K content and a show downloading capability, as it looks to expand a subscriber base that's been stuck at about 3 million. YouTube TV also announced it will soon allow subscribers to access unlimited concurrent streams while at home, an improvement over a current allowance of three concurrent streams. However, unlimited DVR recordings are a standard, rather than premium feature, for YouTube TV.
Sling TV, the Dish-owned skinny-bundle OTT-TV service, recently enhanced its product by providing 50 hours of free DVR storage (up from 10 hours) and a DVR Plus add-on that provides 200 hours (up from 50 hours) of storage while keeping the price at $5 per month. Sling TV made those changes in concert with price increases for new subscribers.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
Senior Editor, Light Reading
Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.
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