AT&T TV, the company’s online alternative to DIRECTV’s satellite service, is now available nationwide after a seven-month trial in select markets.
The new AT&T TV 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. (And, like DIRECTV, you must pay a $20-a-month cancellation fee for every month left in the two-year deal if you leave early.)
The telco has been promoting AT&T TV as DIRECTV without a dish. For the first time, they say, consumers can enjoy the benefits of satellite TV programming 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, AT&T TV’s lineup of channels and services has several omissions that could give a DIRECTV subscriber pause before switching. For example:
No NFL Sunday Ticket
DIRECTV offers the NFL Sunday Ticket, the popular package of out-of-market NFL games. AT&T TV does not.
Missing Local & Regional Sports Channels
Some markets are missing local network affiliates now available on DIRECTV. In addition, AT&T is not carrying some regional sports channels such as MASN in the Washington-Baltimore area, as well as the AT&T-owned regional sports networks in Pittsburgh, Denver, Houston and Seattle. That means no Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, etc. etc.
Update: As of March 5, the Marquee Sports Network, the new TV home of the Chicago Cubs, is not on AT&T’s list of available channels, either. However, it is being carried by DIRECTV.
No Live 4K Programming
While the AT&T set-top is 4K-enabled, the company is not offering live 4K programming now found on DIRECTV such as college basketball games, NFL football games and MLB contests.
High-Speed Internet Required
To watch AT&T TV, you must connect the company-supplied set-top to a high-speed Internet service. That could be a problem for some rural residents who don’t have access to top-quality Internet plans. AT&T’s recommends that you have a minimum of 8 Mbps per stream for optimal viewing; the service permits three simultaneous streams.
On the plus side, AT&T TV does not require an installer to visit your home because the company will send you the AT&T TV box, which you can self-install.
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— Phillip Swann