Coming Soon: DirecTV Now

On November 28, 2016, AT&T will officially unveil its new digital television service, DirecTV Now.

Last year, AT&T bought DirecTV for nearly $50 billion. In an effort to stay competitive and make more money, AT&T is now introducing DirecTV Now. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said, “If you can bring a compelling price point and a compelling content package and some innovation with it, we are absolutely convinced that this is going to be very, very attractive for a large group of customers who really aren’t even in the market today.” AT&T has high hopes that DirecTV Now will help contribute to their financial success.

Many of you may have heard about DirecTV Now and, like me, are likely intrigued. We are the Internet-as-TV generation. We are the target demographic for this kind of technology. A few of us have written blog posts and given presentations about how streaming services, social media, and the Internet itself have completely changed the way that we watch/want to watch television. Moving online is clearly the direction we are headed and AT&T launching DirecTV Now is another major example of this.

If you visit the DirecTV Now website, it reads “TV beyond your wildest streams. It’s coming.” There’s a space to leave your name and e-mail and they will “hit you up later with the deets.” The way this is worded and using the word “deets” shows that they are really targeting a younger demographic.

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RIP Satellites

DirecTV Now will be a streaming service that works with any Internet-capable device (goodbye, satellites!). You won’t have to have AT&T as your phone service provider in order to access DirecTV Now and use the app on your mobile devices, it’s open to anyone.

AT&T is obviously not the first major company to offer live TV online. Verizon Fios has online streaming capabilities for live TV (but you have to have a Verizon account to use it). Verizon offers Go90 which doesn’t require a subscription, but is largely for mobile use and has had some poor feedback. I’ve never heard of it, to be honest. Dish has it’s Sling TV service, which is essentially the same thing as DirecTV Now. Sling TV (and DirecTV Now) give us the ability to watch live TV on multiple devices without a traditional subscription.

So what’s unique about DirecTV Now? Not all of the details have been revealed, but here’s what we do know:

  • Prices will start at $35/month (significantly cheaper than current bundle prices for traditional TV and cheaper than Sling TV)
  • No annual contract
  • No satellite or box required, you can download the apps or access from a browser
  • “Over-the-top” bundle will include more than 100 channels, including HBO and Starz

We’re still waiting on some more important details about the streaming service. For instance, it is not clear which networks they have deals with yet.

John Stankey, the CEO of the AT&T Entertainment Group said, “We’re extending a product set that will give the customer some choice and options on how they consume premium pay-TV content.” They are obviously learning from the incredibly successful Netflix model, which has nearly 74 million subscribers. However, unlike Netflix, it’s expected that the service will only provide one stream per account, which is a disappointment.

Variety report that AT&T will be offering various sign-up incentives to recruit subscribers. Some likely incentives include a free Apple TV for customers who commit to three months of the service and an Amazon Fire TV Stick for those who pay for one month.

Variety also reported that “many networks will be offering a 72-hour ‘catch-up window’ to let users watch shows from the past three days…DirecTV Now also will include a video-on-demand library of up to 14,000 titles. (AT&T has declined to comment.)”

The target audience for DirecTV Now is most of us. We don’t have cable, but we use other streaming services, most of which don’t give us access to live TV. However, have you heard Hulu is planning on debuting a live TV service in 2017? Something to keep an eye on.

What do you think? Do you care about having access to live TV or prefer your Netflix/Hulu options?

Check out this interesting infographic below for a snapshot of streaming services:

internet-tv-battle-the-players

6 comments

  1. You noted: unlike Netflix, it’s expected that the service will only provide one stream per account, which is a disappointment.
    They’re not willing to let us game the system any more?

    In the digital world, major players are muscling into channels that had been stable for many years:
    –Amazon destroying much of the retail store market
    –Craigslist destroying the newspaper revenue stream and killing off many papers
    –Apple and other smartphone makers taking much of the camera market
    –Pandora, Spotify taking listeners off the airwaves, eliminating audio ads
    –Netflix, Cable TV forcing video stores out of business
    –Content providers offering streaming, taking viewers off network TV and onto their connected computers, tablets, and smartphones to watch movies, sports, TV shows

    Now … Mobile Phone networks and others moving into the space of the TV platform with Slingbox and DirectTV Now.

    What has made this latest change possible?
    –Bandwidth. Fiber.
    –Faster video cards.
    –Cheaper & smaller memory chips that can cache the video stream in high quality.
    –Consumers who have been trained by streaming audio to want(demand) personalized entertainment on any device, at any time, with the choice to eliminate ads, schedule limitations, etc…

    Hold onto your …. what is next?

    I predict: stimulus aggregation, ie, services that will combine audio, video, print, present it to the consumer where, when, how they want it.

    1. I don’t think having more than one stream per account is “gaming the system.” With cable, we can watch different channels in the same household, right?

      1. That’s a good point

  2. Aditya Murali · ·

    Awesome post! For me personally, I want the mix of Netflix/Hulu AND live tv. I love live tv still, even though it’s hard for me to watch TV at BC. I love the culture around everyone tuning in around the world at whatever time, and live tweeting reactions and spoilers and all that good stuff. With that being said, the whole television x satellite combo is definitely a thing of the past and live tv has to come to us in a different form. I did not give any serious thought to DirectTV Now, until you mentioned the price. At $35 a month, getting a bunch of channels with live tv and 72 hour playback, that is a pretty enticing offer. With that being said, premium channels like HBO are very important to me as well. I wonder what the price will be when premium options are added. If that price is jacked up to $50+, I really don’t think it’ll be worth it.

  3. I will be interested to see how the battle for video plays out over time. Ironically, my prediction is that we will end up with a small number of networks (i.e. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO) that basically control all content. The result will be like TV of the old days, except you can watch anything, anytime.

  4. olearycal · ·

    Interesting post. I found their tagline about email subscriptions on their website really funny. It definitely seems like an affordable option. I wonder how advertisements will factor into the viewing experience. Is there live content available?

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