AT&T Rushes to Meld DirecTV Into Mobile-Phone Bundles

AT&T, aiming to show consumers — and investors — the benefits of gulping down DirecTV for $49 billion, has quickly hammered together an all-wireless bundle combining the satcaster’s TV service with mobile-phone plans.

The telco is aiming the “all-in-one” packages at consumers who don’t want traditional landline phone service, and either don’t have cable TV or are looking to drop it. And, as is the practice in the telecom biz, AT&T is offering discounts for those who lock into contracts by taking multiple services together.

For example, a $200-per-month bundle includes DirecTV HD and DVR service for up to four set-tops, plus unlimited talk and text for four wireless lines and 10 Gigabytes of shared wireless data usage. That represents a discount of about $50 monthly, according to the telco, although the special pricing is available only for the first 12 months after which regular rates will apply. The offers require users to sign a two-year contract for DirecTV service, and they’re available only to new customers.

AT&T’s packages, to be available starting Aug. 10, come after the company closed the deal for DirecTV July 24 following regulatory approval. That has created the largest pay-TV provider in the U.S., with about 26 million combined DirecTV and U-verse TV subs.

“We’re going to deliver more TV and entertainment choices to more screens – when and where our customers want it,” said Brad Bentley, CMO of the newly formed AT&T Entertainment and Internet Services, which encompasses the DirecTV business.

AT&T said its 2,000-plus retail outlets in the U.S. are now selling DirecTV service. The telco is touting a feature of the new all-wireless bundles it’s hoping will drive foot traffic into its stores: Starting next week, new DirecTV subs will have immediate access to TV programming on their mobile devices via the satellite provider’s app. It’s not clear how well the instant-gratification pitch will play, but in a world where users can instantly sign up for and start watching services like Netflix, HBO Now and Dish Network’s Sling TV, AT&T clearly believes it needs to up its game on this front.

In addition to DirecTV, customers can opt for comparable U-verse TV plans in the 21 states where that service available. Also, AT&T is launching a lower-cost “all-included” pricing model for standalone TV service, with DirecTV and U-verse TV packages starting as low as $50 per month (with up to four HD DVR receivers) for the first 12 months.

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