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AT&T On DIRECTV Now: Doing Better Than Expected

A top AT&T executive says DIRECTV Now’s launch has gone better than he expected, according to Fierce Cable.

Enrique Rodriguez, AT&T’s chief technology officer, told the web site yesterday in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show that “absolutely there were problems (but) the problems were not as big as I expected. I’m so proud of the quality we delivered.”

The upbeat characterization of DIRECTV Now’s first five weeks will likely raise eyebrows in the technology industry and particularly among its subscribers. DIRECTV Now, a standalone streaming service, has been riddled with errors, false sports blackouts and a few lengthy outages since its debut on November 30.

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At the Apple iTunes store, where apps are rated by users, DIRECTV Now’s app has received far more one-star reviews than any other type of rating. The collective rating for the app is now just two stars overall.

There has been talk among subscribers and journalists that AT&T launched DIRECTV Now before it was ready. But Rodriguez tells Fierce Cable that the telco worked for months on the project and feels satisfied that it’s doing what needed.

While DIRECTV Now has experienced a number of technical snafus, the Net TV service does seem to have fixed its nagging false blackouts of National Football League games and there has not been a major outage for three weeks.

But scores of subscribers are still scrambling every day onto social media sites to register various complaints such as channels being too slow to download or shows that stop in the middle to display an error code.

DIRECTV Now, which offers more than 100 channels, is available in packages starting at $35 a month. The service launched with an introductory offer of $35 a month for 100 channels, but that offer will expire on January 9. The $35 a month plan will then offer just 60 channels while the 100 channel package will cost $60 a month.

— Phillip Swann