AT&T and DirecTV will launch three separate internet streaming TV services later this year, none of which require cable or satellite subscriptions.
The services are aimed at people who are living in a post-cable world, one filled with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. They will work with any carrier (Verizon too), and on basically any device you want — phone, tablet, streaming box, smart TV, and so on.
Here is a quick rundown of the three services:
- DirecTV Now will function as your cable package replacement. AT&T says it will include “much” of what DirecTV offers today: on-demand, live programming, and premium add-ons. But you won’t have a satellite.
- DirecTV Mobile will be aimed at smartphones and is characterised by AT&T as “affordable.” You can think of it as being more in the Hulu camp. There will be a lot of TV shows, but not necessarily everything will be available as soon as it goes live. While this service is “mobile-first,” AT&T confirms you’ll be able to access it from any streaming device.
- DirecTV Preview will be a free service that is completely ad-supported. At first blush, it seems the content offerings won’t be nearly as good. The company is touting content from AT&T’s “Audience Network” and millennial-focused “Otter Media.” You can look at this service a bit like Verizon’s ad-supported Go90 app.
AT&T declined to elaborate on pricing, but said it will be “competitive” with other services offering the same content. This might mean that people who have ditched the cable ecosystem could get sticker shock at the highest tier. It certainly won’t be the $10 bucks you pay for many “over-the-top” services like Netflix.
Even so, these releases do mark a major move into internet TV by two big players.
The offerings until now have been fairly barren. Sling TV offers a “skinny bundle” of channels like ESPN, AMC, and CNN for $20 a month. But AT&T has indicated that DirecTV Now will be more robust in content offerings than a “skinny bundle.”
That is promising for cord-cutters, but the big piece that needs to fall into place is the price. If AT&T can’t make the highest tier more attractive financially than just buying a cable subscription and logging into Comcast’s Xfinity instead of watching it on TV, it won’t make much noise.