Q. You’ve written a lot about AT&T’s plans for DIRECTV, but what about U-verse? Are they going to keep it going or do they plan to shut it down? — Rita, Clemson, South Carolina.
Rita, the AT&T-owned U-verse will celebrate its 14th anniversary this June, but I would be surprised if it turns 15. Let me explain.
AT&T has declared that its new Internet-based TV service, AT&T TV, is now its primary video service, eclipsing even DIRECTV which still has roughly 16 million subscribers. AT&T TV delivers programming packages similar to DIRECTV (although identical; see this article), but it does not require a dish or satellite receiver. Instead, AT&T sends you a company-branded set-top that delivers the signals to your TV over your Internet service.
AT&T officials have said that DIRECTV will now be marketed primarily in rural areas where high-speed Internet access is limited.
So if AT&T is willing to start treating DIRECTV like the ugly stepsister, what does that mean for U-verse, which has only four million subscribers?
Well, for starters, AT&T has stopped taking online orders for U-verse. (It’s still taking online orders for DIRECTV.) When you go to AT&T’s U-verse web page, you’re told that “U-verse TV is now available only by phone.”
And from there it gets worse.
AT&T’s U-verse page — yes, the page supposedly dedicated to promoting U-verse — features large picture of the AT&T TV set-top, accompanied by several bullet points on why you should get AT&T TV. And underneath the picture is a large graph detailing all the ways that AT&T TV is ‘better’ than U-verse!
I can’t recall ever seeing a company trash its own product on its own web site. Simply amazing.
Rita, I think you’ll see AT&T start offering U-verse subscribers incentives to switch to AT&T TV in the coming months, perhaps beginning when the Coronavirus outbreak has subsided. Then, sometime next year, the company will shut down U-verse entirely, offering its customers AT&T TV as an alternative.
Rita, hope that answers your question. Happy viewing, and stay well!
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— Phillip Swann