AT&T kills off the failed TV service previously often called DirecTV Now

A large AT&T logo seen on the outside of its corporate offices.
Enlarge / AT&T company places of work on November 10, 2020, in El Segundo, California.

AT&T is killing off the online-video service previously often called DirecTV Now and introducing a no-contract choice for the newer on-line service that changed it.

AT&T unveiled DirecTV Now late in 2016, the yr after AT&T purchased the DirecTV satellite tv for pc firm. Costs initially began at $35 a month for the live-TV on-line service, and it had signed up 1.86 million subscribers by Q3 2018. However prospects shortly fled as AT&T repeatedly raised prices and minimize down on the usage of promotional offers, leaving the service with simply 683,000 subscribers on the finish of Q3 2020.

In 2019, AT&T modified the identify from DirecTV Now to AT&T TV Now, creating confusion amongst prospects and its own employees as a result of the corporate concurrently unveiled one other on-line streaming service referred to as AT&T TV.

AT&T TV was pitched as a extra strong substitute for satellite tv for pc TV, and it even mimicked cable and satellite tv for pc by imposing contracts, hidden fees, and a big second-year price hike. Going ahead, AT&T TV Now will not be supplied to new prospects, and AT&T TV would be the flagship for AT&T’s live-TV streaming enterprise. “AT&T TV Now has merged with AT&T TV,” the service’s website says in an replace flagged in a news article by TV Answer Man yesterday.

For current customers, “AT&T TV Now prospects’ service and plans stay in impact” with none adjustments, an AT&T spokesperson instructed Ars. “We’ve got no different worth adjustments to announce presently.”

Convoluted pricing, an AT&T custom

Beforehand, AT&T TV was solely out there with a contract. There may be now a no-contract choice that prices extra within the first yr however might be cheaper in the long term if prospects use it for a number of years.

The no-contract AT&T TV prices are $69.99 per thirty days for 65 channels; $84.99 for 90 channels and one yr of HBO Max; $94.99 for 130 channels and one yr of HBO Max; and $139.99 for 140 channels and HBO Max with out the one-year time restrict. There is not any regional sports activities community price in these packages.

The first-year prices for contract plans vary from $59.99 to $129.99, plus a regional sports activities community price of as much as $8.49 for all packages besides the most affordable one. Together with the sports activities price, the first-year costs on a lot of the contract plans are $10 or so cheaper than the equal no-contract choices. An exception is the “premier” package deal with 140 channels and HBO Max, which prices about $140 the primary yr no matter whether or not you’ve got a contract or not.

Prospects who choose the two-year contract will get an enormous worth hike the second yr, with base costs starting from $93 to $183 per thirty days plus the sports activities price. The second-year costs may truly be greater than that because it’s based mostly on the “then-prevailing charge,” which AT&T may change. The contract choice additionally requires a $19.95 activation price and an early termination price of $15 for every month remaining on the contract.

Preserve going

There isn’t any computerized worth improve after 12 months for the no-contract choice, however that’s not a assure that costs will not rise. AT&T’s nice print says that “pricing, channels, options, and phrases are topic to alter and could also be modified or discontinued at any time with out discover.”

There’s one other issue that makes the no-contract worth $10 increased if you’d like numerous cloud-DVR storage. Whereas the contract choice comes with 500 hours of cloud DVR storage, the no-contract choice solely comes with 20 hours except you pay an additional $10 per thirty days to improve to 500 hours. The contract choice additionally comes with one free AT&T TV device, which prices $5 per thirty days for twenty-four months on the no-contract plan. Third-party streaming units additionally work with the service, so there is not any requirement to purchase this.

There is not any worth change proper now for current AT&T TV prospects. Regardless of the brand new no-contract choice, the contracts for current AT&T TV prospects “stay in impact,” AT&T instructed Ars. As is at all times the case with AT&T TV providers, the pricing tiers are convoluted, so new prospects ought to study them rigorously earlier than signing up. This desk offers a breakdown of key variations between contract and no-contract choices:


Multimillion-customer exodus

For monetary reporting functions, AT&T TV is a part of a class AT&T calls “Premium TV” providers, which additionally contains DirecTV satellite tv for pc and U-verse wireline TV. AT&T has misplaced practically 8 million prospects from the class previously few years, dropping from over 25 million in early 2017 to 17.1 million on the finish of September 2020.

Extra buyer losses might be on the best way, as AT&T is raising prices on each DirecTV and U-verse efficient January 17. AT&T is making an attempt to promote DirecTV, however gives thus far have reportedly valued the satellite tv for pc supplier at about a third of the $49 billion AT&T paid in 2015.

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