AT&T officially introduced its DirecTV Now streaming service today — offering less than analysts expected after CEO Randall Stephenson vowed to provide more than 100 channels for as little as $35 a month.
That $35 for 100-plus channels will be good for initial subscribers for the November 30 launch. After the intro period — the length still hasn’t been determined — that price will secure more than 60 channels as part of the “Live a Little” package.
Those paying $50 can watch more than 80 channels with the “Just Right” platform followed by $60 for the “Go Big” offering with more than 100 channels, and then $70 for the “Gotta Have It” package with more than 120 channels.
Subscribers will have two streams at the lower prices, meaning they can only watch on two devices at a time.
HBO and Cinemax will each cost an additional $5 a month. Each comes with VOD.
It will not include NFL Sunday Ticket, although AT&T is talking to the league about the possibility. DVR functionality also is expected next year.
DirecTV Now will have programming from stations owned by three of the four major broadcast groups. “CBS is the missing sole,” AT&T Entertainment CEO John Stankey says. “We continue to work with them.”
If ABC, Fox, and NBC local affiliates don’t agree to provide programming, then viewers in those markets will be able to see primetime shows in a VOD package after they first air. DirecTV Now can offer broadcasters’ NFL games, Stankey says.
Geographic restrictions on sports programming will apply.
AT&T will waive data charges for its wireless customers, a prospect that the FCC questioned as a possible violation of the spirit — if not the letter — of its net neutrality rules. AT&T disputed that characterization.
“We don’t want [people] them to have a product from AT&T,” Stankey says. “We want them to have two products….The depth of that customer over time becomes very important.”
DirecTV Now will work with the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Android devices (with iOS to come next year), iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari web browsers.
Next year DirecTV Now will work with Roku devices, Amazon Fire tablets, and Smart TVs from Samsung.
Reese Witherspoon appeared at a press conference in New York to reveal that she will bring productions from her newly launched company, Hello Sunshine — designed “by women for women” — to the service next year. Taylor Swift also will provide original content.
DirecTV Now is “bigger than the introduction of the U-verse product,” Stankey says. The service will target “more than 20 million households that are not part of the pay TV ecosystem” including those who “maybe couldn’t pass credit checks.”
In addition to DirecTV Now, AT&T is launching Fullscreen with more than 1,500 hours of ad-free scripted and unscripted original series, TV shows and films licensed from studios.