AT&T's DirecTV Now Streaming Video Launches in November at $35 a Month

DirecTV Now, which was announced in March, will have more than 100 channels and is aimed at people who have no pay TV services.

AT&T, DirecTV Now, streaming video, Time Warner, acquisition, Randall Stephenson

When it launches in November, AT&T's DirecTV Now streaming video service will have more than 100 channels and will cost $35 a month, according to the company's CEO.

The pricing and channel availability details were announced by Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chairman and CEO, while he was speaking at a technology conference in California on Oct. 25, according to a story by Variety.

DirecTV Now, which was revealed back in March by the company, will allow AT&T and DirecTV customers to dump their satellite dishes and receive a wide range of video content via wired or wireless internet streaming on any device.

The cheaper pricing is a reversal from Stephenson's earlier comments about the upcoming service, which was targeted originally as a premium product that wasn't looking to undercut existing pay TV services, the story reported. Stephenson said the lower price is possible "because DirecTV Now doesn't require operator-owned set-top boxes, satellite dishes, and customer service home visits."

Stephenson's remarks about DirecTV Now came just after AT&T announced its plans on Oct. 22 to acquire media and entertainment company Time Warner in an $85.4 billion deal that the company sees as a way to bring more content to its customers, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The merger is subject to approval by Time Warner shareholders and review by the U.S. Department of Justice, AT&T stated. If the deal is ultimately approved, the merger would join AT&T's wireless, broadband and satellite TV offerings together with entertainment content from Time Warner, including its TNT, TBS, CNN and HBO cable networks, as well as its Warner Bros. film and TV studio.

Stephenson had previously confirmed in September at another technology conference that DirecTV Now would be available in the fourth quarter of the year to allow the carrier's wireless customers to gain more options for receiving television programming at will. At that time, he said it would deliver more than 100 channels "at a very, very aggressive price point."

The service is slated to work over a wired or wireless internet connection from any provider on a smartphone, tablet, smart TV, streaming media hardware or PC. The service will allow several users to view content over simultaneous sessions, and they will not require annual contracts, satellite dishes or set-top boxes.

AT&T wireless customers, however, will have the extra bonus of using the DirecTV Now services without using their AT&T mobile data allotments, said Stephenson. The service is exclusively an over-the-top product that customers will access through an app on their devices.

The offering has been built from the ground up over the last year, and customers will be able to access it by downloading the app, subscribing digitally, selecting their desired content packages and receiving online billing.

AT&T hopes that DirecTV Now will drive more customers to its wireless services and reduce AT&T's wireless churn rates.

The company said it has secured content agreements with a wide range of content providers, including existing deals with Disney, HBO and NBC Universal. AT&T and DirecTV plan to enter the market slowly with a few thousand initial customers, then will expand it as the system proves itself. The company plans to target its DirecTV Now offering to the 20 million homes that have no pay TV subscriptions today.

Initially, the services will be offered with one or two streams for people living in apartments or homes who want to view content on televisions and a device such as a tablet.

AT&T will continue to offer DirecTV satellite TV services even when the new streaming services begin, and customers will be able to continue to access programming on virtually all mobile devices as they do today. AT&T also will continue to offer its U-verse TV and internet services, according to the earlier eWEEK story.

AT&T acquired DirecTV for $48.5 billion in July 2015 after having pursued the merger since May 2014, according to an earlier eWEEK story. In August 2015, AT&T began offering $500 in credits per line to DirecTV customers who transferred their mobile services over to AT&T from a competing carrier. AT&T's move to offer enhanced deals to bring over DirecTV customers to grow its own subscriber base was part of the company's vision for making the acquisition in the first place. The merger turned AT&T into a bigger player with its hands in more markets and a ready pool of new prospects to bring into its business coffers.

Cable rival Comcast just announced its own plans to shake up its industry by starting to offer wireless phone services by mid-2017 through phone plans that will use WiFi and the Verizon network for connectivity, according to a Sept. 21 eWEEK story.