AT&T TV: Do You Need the Set-Top?


Q. I’ve been thinking of getting AT&T TV today, but I was wondering if you need to get the AT&T set-top they offer. I don’t want to wait around for the thing to be delivered. Couldn’t I just download an app and start watching today? — Curt, St. Louis.

Curt, let me first explain to our readers what AT&T TV is.

The new Internet-based service offers DIRECTV’s programming packages over an AT&T-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 cancellation fee for every month left in the two-year deal if you leave early. AT&T TV charges $15 a month if you cancel while DIRECTV requires a $20 a month penalty.)

Now to your question: Can you start watching on the app rather than having to wait for the set-top?

Sorry, the answer is no. For reasons AT&T has yet to explain, the company wants you to first install the set-top, which is mailed to you after you order. It would seem easier for everyone if you could just download the app and start watching. But AT&T doesn’t always make it easy when it comes to TV, whether it’s DIRECTV, U-verse or AT&T TV.

I suspect that AT&T gets some marketing and advertising benefits by putting set-tops in homes. But, again, that’s just a guess. For now, AT&T says it’s their way or the highway.

If it helps, Curt, AT&T says the set-top is shipped via express, which means it should be there in a few days.

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6 comments on “AT&T TV: Do You Need the Set-Top?”

  1. “… For now, AT&T says it’s their way or the highway.” When I hear an offer like this from the likes of AT&T – I’ll take the highway every time.

  2. This makes no sense. By using an interface device such as their new desktop box AT&T still still behind the times and wasting money…Television APP’s are the way to go. There are many examples that have had great success such as PlutoTV, Google, YouTube and even the Cable provider Spectrum and so on, and so on…

  3. I am exploring streaming services and currently have uverse. Equipment failures are once a year and have become old. Wss looking into att tv until they told me I had to purchase or I had to rent equipment. Goodbye AT&T. Trying out YouTube TV right now. It works seamlessly with my smart 85 inch Sony. Play station view was my favorite but they’re out of business and about 1/3 of what im paying for uverse.

  4. Maybe it is their way of “Justifying” the 2 year contract (They gave you a “free” box)

    I think everyone would rather pay a small (one time) fee for the box and FORGET the 2 year contract.

    but with AT&T this is still a BIG Gamble, they will have another way to screw you.

    Like having Call Centers Overseas. They NEVER work.

    ” When I hear an offer like this from the likes of AT&T – I’ll take the highway every time. LIKE this Plan BEST

    Remember: AT&T HATES Customers.

  5. I was on Directv and changed to AT&T TV. I could access on the pc once I serup the account and installed the app and viewed. My STB did not arrive until 2 days later. I have had my service about a month. Once you get used to the quirks it works well and a lot cheaper.

  6. Actually, as soon as you sign agreement you can stream service on the Amazon fire TV. Your box will be delivered overnight.

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