As revealed by Randall Stephenson, the chief executive officer of AT&T, the major US wireless carrier is planning to officially launch DirecTV Now, its online video streaming service, some time in the last quarter of 2016. He also took the opportunity to hint that the feature will come with over a hundred premium channels and aggressive price points.
As soon as the DirecTV Now service gets launched later this year, it will pair nicely with AT&T’s DirecTV (which provides satellite TV service), basically allowing end users to enjoy access to video content streamed through any connected device, whether it be smartphones, tablets, or TV boxes such as Roku.
The second biggest mobile operator in the United States now joins a club of companies that offer services aimed at consumers who have decided to forego a standard subscription TV service (also known as cord cutters). These other companies include Dish Network with its Sling TV service and Sony with its PlayStation Vue.
The popularity of video streaming has significantly risen in the last few years, with content providers such as Netflix, HBO Go, and Hulu enjoying a visible increase in demand among consumers. But it still has a lot to go before it can completely supplant traditional TV services, which are still considered less costly and more accessible.
But this has not stopped companies like AT&T from trying. What the wireless carrier is planning is to initially target the 20 million households that are yet to sign up for a pay TV subscription, and then offer a better pricing structure. The advantage of AT&T is that it does not need to deploy technicians to set up cables or set top boxes -- consumers can access DirecTV Now by simply downloading its mobile app. Moreover, stuff like ordering, customer service, and billing are all achieve through digital means.
At the outset, AT&T’s plan is to have DirecTV Now deliver one or two streams to a household. Later on, it can offer more simultaneous streams with corresponding rates depending on the viewing preferences of the subscriber. This way, users can enjoy more flexibility in choosing which channels to watch and managing their budget.
For those who are open to bundled services, AT&T can offer them a DirecTV Now subscription combined with the wireless carrier’s mobile services or broadband Internet. Mobile users can enjoy streaming DirecTV Now on their handsets without having to worry about their data allotments getting affected, which should provide more motivation to avail of bundled deals. According to Stephenson, 5 million of the company’s wireless customers had already signed up for its new unlimited plan, which requires subscribers to also get a DirecTV subscription.
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