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AT&T just dropped a bombshell by announcing that its streaming TV streaming package, DirecTV Now, will include more than 100 channels for only $35 a month.
That $35 includes unlimited mobile data for your TV viewing, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal’s digital conference.
The service will debut in November.
DirecTV Now will be a package of live TV 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. The market leader Sling TV charges $20 for “25+” channels, and its highest package has about 50 channels for $40. Sony’s PlayStation Vue charges $54.99 for about 100 channels, and its lowest package gives you “60+” channels for $39.99 a month. Other competitors including Hulu and YouTube are reportedly readying their own packages for streaming live TV but have yet to name a 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. It will have channels from Time Warner, NBCUniversal, Fox, Disney, and others. AT&T can afford the low price point because it didn’t have to create and service legacy equipment like satellite dishes, Stephenson said.
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 senior vice president 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 (more than 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 DirecTV Now would eventually be bolstered by AT&T’s 5G network. He presented 5G as an alternative to broadband moving forward.
This announcement comes on the heels of AT&T’s proposed $85 billion purchase of Time Warner. The deal, if it goes through, would link AT&T’s “pipes” – wireless, broadband, and satellite – to Time Warner’s media properties, which include HBO, CNN, and Warner Brothers.
Stephenson said Time Warner channels would be available on DirecTV Now.