AT&T TV: DIRECTV Savior Or Failure?

19 comments

Q. Do you think AT&T TV, the so-called DIRECTV replacement, is the answer for AT&T? Do you think it will be a successful replacement for DIRECTV? And what does it offer that’s any better than DIRECTV if I was going to replace one with the other? — Abbie, Abilene, Texas. 

Abbie, as you may know, AT&T TV, which is scheduled to go nationwide next week, is an Internet-based service that offers DIRECTV’s programming packages over a company-supplied set-top.

(Once you connect the set-top, you can also watch AT&T TV on tablets, smart phones and some streaming devices using an AT&T TV app.)

AT&T TV’s promotional prices, which now start at $49.99 a month, are identical to the satellite TV service. But like DIRECTV’s promotional plans, AT&T TV requires a two-year agreement for the first-year promo prices, and monthly fees roughly double in year two.

The new service has a similar lineup to DIRECTV’s lineup, but there are some noticeable holes. For instance, there is no NFL Sunday Ticket on AT&T TV nor are there local network affiliates or regional sports channels in some markets. (While the AT&T set-top is 4K-enabled, the company is also not offering 4K programming now found on DIRECTV.)

The service does offer 500 hours of DVR storage, the capacity to watch shows on three devices at the same time, and on-demand programming.

AT&T launched in trial markets last August, and is now available in Riverside and Orange, California, Miami, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Topeka and Wichita, Kansas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, St. Louis and Springfield, Missouri, New York City, Corpus Christi, El Paso, and Odessa, Texas and Seattle and Tacoma, Washington.

The telco is promoting AT&T TV as DIRECTV without a dish. For the first time, they say, consumers can enjoy the benefits of satellite TV without having to install a clunky piece of equipment on their roof or yard.

AT&T is hopeful that AT&T TV will turn around the company’s TV division which has suffered net losses of six million subscribers since it purchased DIRECTV in 2015. In an ideal scenario, AT&T TV will attract new customers, and persuade current DIRECTV subs to switch to a service that is less expensive for the company to operate.

However, I don’t have much hope that AT&T TV is the answer to the company’s sagging TV fortunes.

The lack of key channels and services, such as the NFL Sunday Ticket, and local sports and programming in some markets, will give current DIRECTV subs pause before switching.

(For instance, AT&T TV is now available in Topeka, Kansas, but doesn’t have Fox or NBC there. It’s in Odessa, Texas, but it doesn’t offer ABC there.; there’s no Fox available in Springfield, Missouri, and so on. AT&T also hasn’t made its AT&T-branded regional sports networks available via streaming yet.)

And new customers will likely hesitate for a variety of reasons, including:

* Live streaming services are not doing well.
Live streaming services, such as AT&T’s own AT&T TV Now, have been fading in popularity since they began raising prices a year or two ago. Consumers are concluding that live streaming is a sub-par alternative to cable and satellite, and there’s no compelling reason why AT&T TV will change that thinking.

After all, the service doesn’t have any special programming, such as the Sunday Ticket, to attract new customers nor does it have any special technological features. In fact, unlike Hulu Live, Sling TV, YouTube TV and the other live streamers, AT&T TV requires a set-top, and we all know that cord-cutting consumers are weary of set-tops.

* The two-year contract.
You can start watching Hulu Live or Sling TV today without any requirements other than a 30-day payment. No contracts. No cancellation fees. AT&T TV’s two-year contract simply can’t compete with that.

* The Brand
AT&T has a short but troubled history with television, having presided over the crumbling fortunes of DIRECTV. I can’t imagine consumers going for AT&T TV because of the name brand. Telephone service, okay. Television? No.

There are other reasons why AT&T TV is likely to fail, but the ones listed above are more than enough in my humble opinion.

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Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at swann@tvpredictions.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.

— Phillip Swann

19 comments on “AT&T TV: DIRECTV Savior Or Failure?”

  1. There is virtually no chance of success. I was a happy DirectTV subscribe for over 20 years, and one with numerous premium packages that the company loved its customers to have. DirectTV was always a bit expensive comparatively, but until the takeover we never were subjected to serious carriage agreements that led to blackouts. Not only did that change with AT&T (I just spent the summer without ABC) but in a serious miscalculation (aimed, presumably, at getting political support in its dealings with network owners) it warned that more were likely, Sensing the changes I resisted numerous enticements aimed at my agreeing to a 2 year contract. With the improvement to the streaming options, and hit with another increase in prices, I cancelled without fees and switched to YouTube TV with premium movie channels and Philo (for a few channels I wanted that were not available on YouTube TV), With minor adjustments I am getting virtually everything I want (still undecided if HBO worth it) for well over $100 less per month. And if I am dissatisfied I can instantly change it without cost. As long as they want contracts they are doomed to continuing loss of customers with little ability to attack new customers that want to retain options.

    1. I am a 26 year Directv veteran and I agree with everything you said. Let me add, the customer service sucks! Their greed IS going to be their downfall. You can’t increase prices, decrease channels, increase infomercials channels, and oh yeah, increase prices so drastically! I’m paying $115, in 3 months another increase to $150. I don’t think so!!!
      If loyalty department cant help me, I told my daughter last week, we have to leave DirecTV. Hopefully, we’ll find a streaming service that meet our needs.

  2. AT&T is the reason we’re dumping DirecTV. Nobody there speaks understandable English, nor do they know anything helpful. AT&T, simply put, sucks. Their greed is outrageous, as evident in their increasingly high costs…and as the price for their service goes up, the quality of that service goes down. They should have left DirecTV alone instead of utterly ruining it.

  3. To everybody’s delight streaming, will be your only tv option, except for a tv antenna. Most of the cable, satellite networks will be gone thank goodness

  4. Why would they require you to sign a two-year contract for their receiver when the only thing that they will have to do is send it to you. You connect it yourself to your own Internet which you pay for extra And they do not send out one person for the install. You should be able to cancel at any time and only send their standalone receiver back to them without any contracts. There’s no chance they will make it.

  5. I get directv. My Verizon internet from cell towers is often 3 or less Meg down and 0.5 upload. How can I do streaming ever?

    Steve

  6. Does anybody know if all the regional sports networks under contract will be available or only ones home market. Directv currently offers all regional sports networks via their dish regardless of address with appropriate blackouts for MLB/NBA/NHL.This is great for people who live in one place but originate from another city.

  7. Here in rural America, we rely on satellites for TV and internet. No cable out here. Satellite internet can’t support streaming. Cell not available. At&t hasn’t even repaired the land lines so they are so noisy they are barely usable.

  8. I’ve tried the router and the repeater.. doesn’t work!!! Not enough towers for signal and too many trees blocking.. have “HughesNet” Gen5.. I would be happy with ATT&T, if better internet!!

  9. You people are screwing those of us who’ve been with you for many years. I love Dtv, but I’m getting really tired of paying higher prices and watching the same shows every week. I went from $142.00 a month to $164.00 a month, and I dont have any showtime or HBO. What gives? The people who dropped you did so because when AT&T took over it went downhill. But why should we pay for it? Its Dtv’s fault not ours. My name is Kathy and I’m from Snead, Al.
    Get this right and more people will stay, keep screwing us and more will leave. Simple as that!

    1. What do you have for $ 164.00 ?
      Sounds like the Con Artists talked you into a bunch of stuff
      you DON’T know you Have or Want
      It is NOT DirecTV’s Fault, (There are gone) it is AT&T

  10. I HAD DIRECTV FOR MANY YEARS… 20 YEARS IN FACT. I PAID MY LAST BILL EARLY. I TALKED WITH A REP. ABOUT MY MOVING. I COULDN’T CONTINUE MY SERVICE W/ DIRECTV. MY BILLS WERE VERY HIGH. HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, & CINEMAX ALONE COMBINES W/ basic CHANNELS was $165.00 per month. I never ever had a late payment. Always on time… Now, DirecTV is charging me for early deactivation fee. Which is only $79.00. I had paid off so many contracts with this company. That, I feel I shouldn’t have to pay them. I was a faithful customer. I was never a complainer. I gave DIRECTV, THOUSANDS & THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO THEM. AND THIS IS HOW THEY TREAT ME??? I AM GLAD THAT THIS DIRECTV IS GOING OUT OF BUSINESS… DIRECTV IS A GREEDY COMPANY. THEY ARE GETTING WHAT THEY DESERVE. I AM STREAMING NOW… I AM SAVING SO MUCH MONEY NOW… GOOD BYE DIRECTV… I PAID FOR YOUR SERVICE. I DON’T OWE NOT A RED CENT TO DIRECTV. SHAME ON THIS COMPANY… FOR CHARGING ME A EARLY LETTING GO EARLY FEE, BY ONLY A FEW DAYS… I SAY THIS NOW & FOREVER…. I PAID DIRECTV FOR ALL THEIR SERVICES DOWN TO THE PENNY. GOD DOES NOT LIKE UGLY…

    1. Yvonne, just to clarify…its not DirectV thats doing this to you, its ATT. ATT took over ownership of Directv. But, yeah, ATT since they took over their operations of Directv has gone down the drain. And, you shouldn’t have paid that early deactivation fee that’s ridiculous. I would have asked to speak to a manager. You explain you’re a 20+ year loyal customer and you need assistance in handling this issue. Personally, I not sure I would have paid. Before the takeover Directv was accommodating to their customers, but not ATT. They could careless. All they want is the money while giving little to nothing in return. Im leaving the second i find a streaming service that meet my needs.

  11. I HATE, DESPISE AND LOATH AT&T and DIRECT TV. There are no exceptions or excuses for their treason, scamming, lack of customer service are they are the mot fraudulent since Bernie Madoff. All of the mongers should be dealt with!!! I am SURE they will raise my rates AGAIN, now. If I can only make it until Jan 2021

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