Q. I was thinking of getting AT&T TV because they send the box to you so you don’t have to go out which is good now with the Coronavirus orders. But I looked on our Roku and I couldn’t find the AT&T channel anywhere. Would I be able to watch AT&T TV on a Roku in a different room of the house if I have the set-top in our living room? — Wendy, Corsicana, Texas.
Wendy, the answer is a bit complicated so allow me first to offer some background on AT&T TV.
It’s a new Internet-based TV service that offers programming packages (and prices) similar to DIRECTV’s satellite service over a company-supplied set-top. (Note: You must sign a two-year agreement which comes with early termination penalties. Learn more about AT&T TV’s prices, features, and programming gaps, here.)
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 could be an attractive offering now with Americans fearful of going to the store, or even engaging with a pay TV service technician who must enter your home to install various pieces of equipment. (That is, if you’re okay with that two-year contract. I’m not.) You could get the AT&T box by mail, install it yourself, and then watch your favorite shows in multiple rooms in the house using a streaming device or two. (AT&T TV allows you to watch 3 different shows on 3 different devices at the same time.)
But here’s the problem if you use Roku, arguably the most popular streaming device in the nation.
On January 1, 2020, Roku removed AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now, the live streaming service formerly known as DIRECTV Now, from its list of available channels. If you previously subscribed to an AT&T TV service via Roku, you can still use it on the streaming device, but you can no longer add it from scratch.
Let’s allow AT&T to offer an explanation, which comes from its web site:
“Starting January 1, 2020, you won’t be able to add the AT&T TV channel to your Roku device. Already have AT&T TV on your Roku device? You can keep using it as long as you don’t delete the app. We’re actively working on a new agreement with Roku and hope to resolve this soon.”
The companies have been tight-lipped about why they are fighting. But it could be about carriage fees. Roku in February threatened to remove the Fox Sports app shortly before the Super Bowl before the two sides signed a last-minute deal. Most industry analysts believe money was at the root of that dispute. (It usually is.)
So which streaming devices could you use to watch AT&T TV in another room?
Amazon Fire TV
Apple TV (4th generation)
Select Samsung TVs
Android phones and tablets (running 5.0 or higher)
iPads and iPhones (iOS 11 or higher)
Chrome browser (version 58 or higher)
Safari browser (version 10 or higher
But not Roku, unless you added the channel prior to January 1. (And with AT&T TV not going nationwide until February, it’s unlikely many AT&T TV subscribers added it prior to January 1.)
Wendy, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe.
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— Phillip Swann