Multi-screen video

AT&T Starts DirecTV Era With New Bundles

One week after closing its DirecTV purchase, AT&T is already offering its first bundle of TV and wireless services, promising discounts, one unified bill and customer care contact, more cross-platform services and offers still to come.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will begin offering its new "All in One" plan on August 10, two weeks after it closed the acquisition of DirecTV, making it the largest pay-TV provider in the US. All in One includes HD and DVR service for up to four TV receivers, unlimited talk and text for four wireless lines and 10GB of shareable wireless data for $200 per month. (See AT&T Closes Acquisition of DirecTV.)

AT&T is offering 12-month promotional pricing plans for either DirecTV or U-Verse TV services ranging from $50 to $125 per month. Wireless service can be added to the plans for $160 per month for 10GB of shareable data and unlimited talk and text for four phone lines. The carrier is offering a $10 discount for those who combine a $50 basic TV plan on DirecTV or U-Verse with the wireless plan, bringing the monthly total to $200.

Customers can also add broadband -- where available -- for $30 per month and access DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket for free for their first year of service. Complete details on its new plans are available in today's press release.

AT&T claims customers can expect savings of at least $600 in the first year, although prices will go up after the promotion ends. At least one analyst isn't convinced the new plans will have wide appeal, because of the pricing, but also the notion of a bundle, in general.

"It's great that AT&T is immediately getting out there and conveying the value of the two companies coming together. However, I'm not convinced of the value of a bundle that only provides a bundle of wireless and TV," Jackdaw Research Chief Analyst Jan Dawson says. "Quadruple play bundles haven't even been that popular, so I'm not sure why this sort of double play would be. This offer seems to be saying 'go ahead and get your broadband from the cable company and go ahead and get the rest from us,' which is a weird message."

As part of its multiscreen video push, new DirecTV subscribers that sign up -- and sign a two-year contract -- will also get immediate access to their TV shows via the DirecTV app on their smartphones before their TV service is even installed, via what AT&T is calling a "walk out and watch" experience.

Those who switch from another wireless carrier will get a $300 bill credit if they buy a smartphone on AT&T Next and trade in an eligible smartphone.

Want to know more about pay-TV market trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

As of the deal close, AT&T began selling DirecTV in its more than 2,000 retail stores nationwide, making it a formidable new competitor to Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and the other pay-TV providers. This is also just the start of new plans and services from the combined company. (See What's Next for the New AT&T? )

In announcing the new plan, Brad Bentley, EVP and CMO for AT&T Entertainment and Internet Services, said that this will be the "first of many planned moves to enable our customers to enjoy a premium entertainment experience almost anywhere."

Although he didn't provide details, he did hint that on the docket is more on-demand TV and entertainment choices across screens and more integrated package offers. AT&T is also planning to build out its fiber footprint to take on its competitors in broadband as well.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

Ariella 8/4/2015 | 1:42:26 PM
Re: bundle up? @mendyk It holds great potential for a Dilbert strip.
mendyk 8/4/2015 | 8:42:18 AM
Re: bundle up? It's fun to try to imagine the brainstorming sessions for these pricing plans. "OK, we need SOMETHING that looks like a good deal for our customers... but we can't really undercut our other prices, and really, we want something that makes our margins BETTER. So, Ramona, where do we go with this?" And you know that some variant of this scenario is the starting point for all these "deals."
Ariella 8/3/2015 | 8:00:09 PM
Re: bundle up? <A pricing plan that looks like it was devised by Rube Goldberg > LOL @MendyK perhaps it holds some appeal for engineers then.
mendyk 8/3/2015 | 4:24:57 PM
Re: bundle up? A pricing plan that looks like it was devised by Rube Goldberg -- it's hard to see this generating any level of customer excitement or interest.
Sarah Thomas 8/3/2015 | 12:03:12 PM
bundle up? I agree with Dawson that I don't see a ton of people being interested in this, even though having one bill is appealing. He also made the good point that the discount doesn't include a handset or sports channels, so if you want that, it'll be even more expensive.

Also, why did AT&T never offer U-Verse + wireless bundles?
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