AT&T's New DirecTV Now the Latest to Enter Streaming Content Wars
AT&T's latest overture to cord cutters is DirecTV Now, a standalone streaming service that launches on Thursday and will offer more than 100 channels of live TV for $35 per month.
If that sounds too good to be true, it kind of is: the $35 price point is a limited-time offer, although DirecTV promises it won't raise prices on initial customers. And there's no complete list yet of the channels that will be offered.
Still, DirecTV Now is poised to be a catch-all solution for TV aficionados who have held onto their expensive cable packages instead of switching to streaming, turned off by the daunting task of assembling everything they want to watch from multiple sports, TV and movie-streaming sites.
After the initial promotion period, the entry-level $35 DirecTV Now package will include approximately 60 channels. You'll also be able to move up to the "Just Right" package ($50 per month for 80 channels), or the "Go Big" package ($60 per month for $100 channels). If you want it all, there's a "Gotta Have It" package of 120 channels for $70 per month.
The entry-level package includes CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, FX, ESPN, Comedy Central and other basic cable channels. The "Just Right" package adds NBCSN, MLB Network and IFC, among others, while the "Go Big" package includes NBA TV, BBC World News and more. A full list will be available on Thursday.
Although the price increases are steep, especially from the entry level to the "Just Right" package, they are still far more palatable than cable packages in many markets. You can add HBO and Cinemax for $5 each per month to any package.
At launch, DirecTV Now will be available on Amazon Fire TV, Android and iOS apps, Chromecast and desktop web browsers. Support for Amazon Fire tablets, smart TVs and Roku will arrive in 2017. If you plan to watch TV on your commute, AT&T-owned DirectTV hopes you'll switch your cell phone plan to AT&T, which will exempt its subscribers from mobile data use while watching DirecTV Now.
In addition to the $35-per-month promotion, DirecTV has a few other offers to attract initial signups. You can pre-pay for one month and get an Amazon Fire TV Stick, or pre-pay for three months and get an Apple TV. Meanwhile, Chinese tech giant LeEco, whose TVs and smartphones splashed into the U.S. market last month, is offering up to 12 months of free DirecTV Now with the purchase of certain devices.