AT&T Debuts DirecTV Now on New Video Platform

AT&T launched its long-awaited DirecTV Now mobile video service today, and with it, a new platform that will serve as the foundation for all AT&T video products moving forward. (See AT&T Launches DirecTV Now Mobile Video Service.)

The DirecTV Now debut brings with it several details about the service that were previously unknown. For starters, while the base package sells for $35 per month, it only offers "60+ channels" rather than the 100 channels indicated by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson earlier this year. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will sell a 100-channel package for $35 as a promotional offering, but that price will not stick around, indicating at least one way in which the telco intends to improve on razor-thin video margins. (See AT&T Puts Finishing Touches on DirecTV Now.)

The permanent service tiers for DirecTV Now, which will be available starting on November 30, include:

  • Live a Little – $35 / month (60+ channels)
  • Just Right – $50 / month (80+ channels)
  • Go Big – $60 / month (100+ channels)
  • Gotta Have it – $70 / month (120+ channels)

Brad Bentley, EVP of Marketing for AT&T Entertainment Group, talks through the features of DirecTV Now at a press event in NYC
Brad Bentley, EVP of Marketing for AT&T Entertainment Group, talks through the features of DirecTV Now at a press event in NYC

News of AT&T's content agreements for DirecTV Now had leaked prior to today's launch. The company has secured agreements with all major programmers except for CBS and Showtime, which are still negotiating terms of carriage. Both live and on-demand video are included with the service, although details about which networks are part of which service tiers are still unknown.

Among other specifics announced, AT&T said DirecTV Now will support two concurrent video streams for each subscriber, be available on most major streaming platforms either at launch or a shortly thereafter, offer both HBO and Cinemax for only $5 extra per month and stream with no data caps for AT&T wireless customers.

Missing from DirecTV Now service are local stations in markets where the broadcast networks don't own their own affiliate stations. And, according to multiple reports after the press event, subscribers will also not be able to stream National League Football games with DirecTV Now.

AT&T has also not announced a DVR feature for its new video offering, which is likely to prove a deterrent for some potential customers. Earlier today, Sling TV, a subsidiary of Dish, announced that it's beginning to beta test a DVR feature for the Sling TV OTT service. (See Sling TV Beta Tests Cloud DVR on Roku.)

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

John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, highlighted several ways in which AT&T plans to take advantage of its new video platform during today's press event, noting that this is the "first time in our history we have full control of the stack." According to Stankey, AT&T will use its newfound control over data, advertising and content delivery to take costs out of offering a video service. And he added, "This is the foundation for how we're going to do things in the future."

Executive Vice President Enrique Rodriguez clarified further, noting that currently AT&T has five different TV platforms, including five different data sets, advertising systems and more. These will all be merged onto AT&T's new video platform.

At the New York press event, AT&T also announced news on two related services to DirecTV now. FreeView is a free version of DirecTV Now that includes only a small slice of the content. Fullscreen is a subscription on-demand service launched earlier in the year for $6 per month that now includes new content and exclusive studio deals.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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kq4ym 12/12/2016 | 4:59:31 PM
Re: 60 channels? One would think the full lineup would be available for the promotion. It does seem CBS seem to usually hold out for the best deal in lots of projects and this seems to be no exception to their negotiating rule.
Michelle 11/29/2016 | 1:59:12 PM
Re: FreeView? @Joe Perfect. That's the best way to drive new customers...who prefer watching clips and commercials. I don't think I get the offering
Michelle 11/29/2016 | 1:57:00 PM
Re: FreeView? @Dan Sounds like clips and other nonsense. I hoped FreeView was some newfangled freemium model they cooked up to promote the service and sign new customers.
Joe Stanganelli 11/29/2016 | 1:49:37 PM
Re: 60 channels? @Dan: Interesting.  Any information/insights as to why CBS is the holdout here?
Joe Stanganelli 11/29/2016 | 1:48:37 PM
Re: FreeView? So, it sounds like them saying that they'll show a small amount of DirecTV content is like saying that a TV commercial/trailer for a movie will show a small amount of film content. 
DanJones 11/29/2016 | 12:26:10 PM
Re: FreeView?F Difference is that FullScreen is curated and developed content, vs. user-driven content. Looked boring to me, but I might not be the millennial target market here! :-) 
DanJones 11/29/2016 | 12:22:30 PM
Re: 60 channels? ABC, Fox, and NBC, no CBS yet. People were very interested about NFL packages in the Q&A. Not through AT&T, they said. Otherwise it looks like an attempt to monetize the fourth screen -- as it were -- but with mostly standard-fare TV, didn't look super-exciting in my limited tests.
DanJones 11/29/2016 | 12:19:23 PM
Re: FreeView?F DVR is coming eventually apparently, they said.
DanJones 11/29/2016 | 12:18:20 PM
Re: FreeView? They said teasers and regular refreshes but no premium content.
FbytF 11/29/2016 | 9:57:22 AM
60 channels? Hard to get excited about this offer without a channel line-up. I haven't seen any news articles that list what the 60 channels will be. You would think AT&T would provide the channel line-up to create some buzz. Maybe it's not that good?  Local broadcast shouldn't be an issue, most cord cutters already have an antenna for local broadcasts.
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