AT&T gives peek at new live streaming TV service and rebrands DirecTV Now

Say hello to AT&T's latest live TV streaming service, AT&T TV

AT&T (NYSE: T) is teasing its new live streaming TV service and making it oh, so obvious, that it’s ready to wash its hands of legacy pay-TV services DirecTV and AT&T U-verse, or, to at least put them on the bottom shelf.

The telco unveiled a new website with some details of the new live streaming TV service, AT&T TV, and said it will begin to roll out the service to select cities later this summer.

It’s also rebranding DirecTV Now to align with the move. AT&T TV Now also will debut this summer.

AT&T TV won’t require users to have a satellite dish or cable box for the new live streaming service, and said it will be self-installable and 4K enabled. The company said the service will include live & on-demand titles, allow for 500 hours of cloud DVR storage, offer integration of more than 5,000 apps like Netflix and Pandora, and be controllable via the Google Assistant.

HBO, Cinemax, Showtime will be available for additional fees, but the company hasn’t disclosed any pricing information yet.

AT&T TV also is enabled for universal search across live and on-demand TV as well as a variety of video apps. The cloud DRV allows for unlimited simultaneous recordings.

AT&T TV can be streamed to the biggest screens in the house, but also is available through the AT&T TV app for mobile devices.

On the new website, AT&T also gives consumers the option to check out AT&T’s “other TV services,” without mentioning either DirecTV or U-verse by name.

DirecTV Now customers to see change, too

Subscribers to AT&T current skinny streaming service AT&T DirecTV Now, also will see a change as that service is rebranded AT&T TV Now. That rebrand will occur this summer, too, and subscribers will only need to accept new terms and services as the rewbrand will be automatic.

Both the AT&T TV and AT&T TV NOW experiences will be accessed through the same AT&T TV app either on mobile or the big screen. Customer login credentials will determine what content appears. 

The company said the AT&T TV app will be available for download across various app stores, and current DIRECTV NOW customers will see this update automatically on their devices.

A new name for the streaming service is the least of AT&T’s worries.

DirecTV Now, which launched in 2016, has lost more than a half million subscribers over the past nine months. It lost 267,000 subs in Q4 2018, 83,000 in Q1 2019 and 168,000 in Q2 and currently has 1.34 million subs.

The bottom line

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, during the telco’s Q2 earnings call, played down the company’s 778,000 pay-TV subscriber loss, along with the 168,000 lost DTV Now customers, saying they were the result of it intentionally shedding unprofitable subscribers who were on promotional deals. He also said that up to one million more were likely to drop by the end of the year.

But he told analysts during the Q2 earning call that the new thin-client service – AT&T TV – would allow it to add customers at half the cost of traditional pay-TV acquisition costs. And, he added that the company would put its “muscle behind AT&T TV, get a lower price point [and] shore up this customer base over the next couple of years.”

In addition to AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now, the telco plans to launch yet another streaming service, HBO Max. That service will leverage more of the content from HBO, Turner and TNT, as well as Warner Bros.

By creating multiple streams of revenue with multiple services that al have their strengths, AT&T is following a playbook its already familiar with in its core business. It’s been a good one for years; this new page should work as well.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn