Tuesday, October 25, 2016

AT&T just announced DirecTV Now; 100+ channels for $35 a month

AT&T just dropped a bombshell by announcing that its streaming TV package, DirecTV Now, will include over 100 channels for only $35 per month.

That $35 includes unlimited mobile data for your TV viewing, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said at the WSJ's digital conference Tuesday.

The service will debut in November.

DirecTV Now will be a live TV package that's delivered over the internet wherever you are — no cable box or satellite dish necessary.

It will target the 20 million people in the US who don't have pay TV, but the company plans for it to be the primary TV platform by 2020, according to Bloomberg.

DirecTV Now's $35 price point undercuts the early industry norms for live streaming TV. Market leader Sling TV charges $20 for "25+" channels, and its highest package has ~50 channels for $40. Sony's PlayStation Vue charges you $54.99 for ~100 channels, and its lowest package gives you "60+" channels for $39.99 per month. Competitors from Hulu to YouTube are reportedly readying their own live TV streaming packages, but have yet to name price.

DirecTV Now seems to be blowing them all out of the water on price, though the full catalog of channels has yet to be announced. Stephenson said it will include channels from Time Warner, NBCUniversal, Fox, and others. AT&T can afford the low price point because it didn't have to create and service legacy equipment like satellite dishes, according to Stephenson.

As is the norm for “over-the-top” services like Netflix or Sling TV, DirecTV Now also won’t lock you into an annual contract.

Pay TV as an app

DirecTV Now won’t break the mold of pay TV, it will simply make the delivery more fluid, and improve on price.

“It’s pay TV as an app,” AT&T’s SVP of strategy and business development, Tony Goncalves, told Business Insider in a recent interview.

AT&T sees itself as an “aggregator of aggregators,” and its strength will be in the breadth of content it provides (100+ channels), as well as in a pain-free technical experience. As a user of Sling TV, I have had many tech issues, and that element should be factored in prominently.

Stephenson also said that, in the future, DirecTV Now will be bolstered by AT&T’s 5G network. He presented 5G as an alternative to broadband moving forward.

Time Warner

This announcement comes on the heels of AT&T's proposed $85 billion purchase of Time Warner. The deal, if it goes through, will AT&T’s “pipes” — wireless, broadband, and satellite — to Time Warner’s media properties that range from HBO to CNN to Warner Brothers.

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