AT&T and DirecTV to launch streaming TV service later this year

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AT&T has announced that it plans to offer internet-based streaming TV service later this year. The new services, which will be branded and packaged as DirecTV products, will let you stream video from smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, set top boxes, PCs, or other devices using a wired or wireless internet connection. AT&T says the new services will not require an existing DirecTV service plan, set top box, or satellite dish and they will not have any contract stipulations.

The new packages will be divided into three tiers: DirecTV Now, DirecTV Mobile, and DirecTV Preview. The Now package will offer the most content, “including much of what is available from DirecTV today,” according to AT&T’s press release. The Mobile option will be priced lower and only available to smartphones (AT&T says it will be available to all smartphone owners, regardless of carrier), while the Preview service will be a free, ad-supported option with limited content options. AT&T says pricing for the tiers will be revealed at launch later this year.

An AT&T spokesperson declined to detail which channels or content packages would be available to the new streaming services, but did note that “DirecTV Now will have a range of content packages” and it would include on-demand and live programming from “many networks, plus premium add-on options.” It is also yet to be known which platforms or devices AT&T will offer apps to access the services on or exactly when the services will be available.

Pricing and content options remain unknown

The closest analog to these new services might be SlingTV, which offers internet-based streaming packages, live content, and on-demand content from a handful of channels on devices such as smartphones, gaming systems, and set-top boxes, without the need for a cable or satellite subscription. If AT&T is able to offer all four major networks — CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox — plus ESPN and HBO, it could be one of the first to offer internet-based television that truly competes with a cable provider. But until we know more, such as pricing and content availability, it remains a question mark just how compelling these new services will be.

Dan Seifert

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