AT&T kills off the failed TV service formerly known as 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 formerly known as 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 12 months after AT&T purchased the DirecTV satellite tv for pc firm. Prices 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. But prospects rapidly fled as AT&T repeatedly raised costs and lower down on the use of promotional offers, leaving the service with simply 683,000 subscribers at 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 personal workers as a result of the firm concurrently unveiled one other on-line streaming service known as AT&T TV.

AT&T TV was pitched as a extra strong alternative for satellite tv for pc TV, and it even mimicked cable and satellite tv for pc by imposing contracts, hidden charges, and an enormous second-year value hike. Going ahead, AT&T TV Now will not be provided to new prospects and AT&T TV will probably be the flagship for AT&T’s live-TV streaming enterprise. “AT&T TV Now has merged with AT&T TV,” the service’s web site says in an replace flagged in a information article by TV Answer Man yesterday.

For current customers, “AT&T TV Now customers’ service and plans remain in effect” with none modifications, an AT&T spokesperson instructed Ars. “We have no other price changes to announce at this time.”

Convoluted pricing, an AT&T custom

Previously, AT&T TV was solely accessible with a contract. There is now a no-contract choice that prices extra in the first 12 months however could possibly be cheaper in the future if prospects use it for a number of years.

The no-contract AT&T TV costs are $69.99 a month for 65 channels; $84.99 for 90 channels and one 12 months of HBO Max; $94.99 for 130 channels and one 12 months of HBO Max; and $139.99 for 140 channels and HBO Max with out the one-year time restrict. There’s no regional sports activities community payment in these packages.

The first-year costs for contract plans vary from $59.99 to $129.99, plus a regional sports activities community payment of as much as $8.49 for all packages besides the most cost-effective one. Including the sports activities payment, the first-year costs on most of the contract plans are $10 or so cheaper than the equal no-contract choices. An exception is the “premier” bundle with 140 channels and HBO Max, which prices about $140 the first 12 months no matter whether or not you have got a contract or not.

Customers who choose the two-year contract will get an enormous value hike the second 12 months, with base costs starting from $93 to $183 a month plus the sports activities payment. The second-year costs might really be greater than that because it’s primarily based on the “then-prevailing rate,” which AT&T might change. The contract choice additionally requires a $19.95 activation payment and an early termination payment of $15 for every month remaining on the contract.

Keep going

There isn’t any computerized value enhance after 12 months for the no-contract choice, however that’s not a assure that costs will not rise. AT&T’s tremendous print says that “Pricing, channels, features, and terms are subject to change and may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice.”

There’s one other issue that makes the no-contract value $10 increased if you need loads of cloud-DVR storage. While the contract choice comes with 500 hours of cloud DVR storage, the no-contract choice solely comes with 20 hours until you pay an additional $10 a month to improve to 500 hours. The contract choice additionally comes with one free AT&T TV system, which prices $5 a month for twenty-four months on the no-contract plan. Third-party streaming units additionally work with the service, so there isn’t any requirement to purchase this.

There’s no value change proper now for current AT&T TV prospects. Despite the new no-contract choice, the contracts for current AT&T TV prospects “remain in effect,” 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 fastidiously earlier than signing up. This desk offers a breakdown of key variations between contract and no-contract choices:

AT&T

Multimillion-customer exodus

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

More buyer losses could possibly be on the means, as AT&T is elevating costs on each DirecTV and U-verse efficient January 17. AT&T is attempting to promote DirecTV, however affords to date have reportedly valued the satellite tv for pc supplier at about a 3rd of the $49 billion AT&T paid in 2015.

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