AT&T has officially launched its new DirecTV Now service. This latest offering from the second biggest wireless carrier in the United States offers a total of four programming tiers starting at $35 a month which already delivers 60 channels. Apart from setting up a new revenue stream for itself, the mobile operator is clearly looking to further expand its current wireless customer base by bringing them zero rated video content (delivered by way of DirecTV Now) by allowing its subscribers to view videos, shows, and other programs on smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices without ever having to worry about their data allowances getting affected.
Obviously, the new DirecTV Now service will allow the live streaming business to become more competitive. But for other major US wireless carriers like T-Mobile and Sprint, they need not fret much -- after all, they can differentiate themselves mainly in terms of pricing. However, it is a different story altogether for industry leader Verizon Wireless, who will now be more pressured to boost its digital media efforts in order to compete with AT&T’s, T-Mobile’s, and Sprint’s offerings.
It is no secret that Verizon Wireless’ acquisition deal with Yahoo is not going as smoothly as it originally planned. And now that its closest rival is launching a potential game changer (along with AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner), the Big Red may be prompted to device a counter move fast. To be clear about it, it is not like Verizon is just sitting idly by, content with remaining the number one wireless carrier in America. Its moves to acquire AOL and Yahoo (albeit the latter is still pending) clearly shows it is looking to join in on the digital media fun, too. But others may argue that its recent efforts are not as aggressive as other members of the Big Four. Some have pointed out that Verizon may be merely making a conscious decision to be careful, especially in an industry as rapidly changing as wireless. Others however are saying that the industry leader stands to lose its throne if it keeps chasing rivals (that is, in terms of features and services) instead of leading the pack.
To AT&T’s credit (and T-Mobile’s and Sprint’s), they clearly see that video consumption via mobile devices is increasing in popularity, and it would be smart to take full advantage of that trend. Having said that, it is not altogether a safe bet for wireless carriers who do. Sure, T-Mobile continues to do well with its Binge On feature, but for other mobile operators offering a similar zero rated video streaming service, sustainable success continues to be elusive.
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