In October, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson vowed that DirecTV Now would disrupt the pay-TV biz with revolutionary pricing: The internet-streaming service would launch for a mere $35 per month for a package with more than 100 channels, dramatically undercutting other TV bundles.
Turns out, the theatrical flourish was a very limited-time promo offer. This week, AT&T revealed that the $35 monthly introductory offer for the DirecTV Now “Go Big” package will end Jan. 9, 2017 — less than six weeks after the telco launched the over-the-top package.
After Jan. 9, new subscribers who sign up for DirecTV Now’s Go Big tier with after Jan. 9 will pay $60 per month. Existing subs will continue to pay the $35-per-month rate for now, but the company also said the fees may increase at some future date. In addition, “channels, features, and terms (are) subject to change & may be discontinued without notice,” AT&T said in a notice on the DirecTV Now website.
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DirecTV Now bundles start at $35 monthly for the “Live a Little” package with 64 channels (plus local stations where available), and range up to the top-tier “Gotta Have It” package with up to 130 channels for $70 per month. Cord-cutters and “cord-never” consumers are expected to gravitate to the entry-level package — which analysts say AT&T appears to be offering at negative net margin.
Local channels on DirecTV Now are available for only select markets from ABC, NBC, Fox and Telemundo, where the broadcasters have owned-and-operated stations. AT&T says that where it does not offer local broadcast channels, it provides day-after-air primetime shows on-demand.
Subscribers can add HBO and Cinemax for a limited-time promo price of $5 each to any DirecTV Now package. In addition, regional sports networks including those from Comcast SportsNet, Fox Sports Networks, YES Network are available in only specific markets (and only in the $50-per-month or higher tiers).
CBS is currently not available, though AT&T says it is in talks with the broadcaster about including CBS and Showtime.
DirecTV Now initially is available to stream on Apple TV (fourth generation), Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick TV, Google Chromecast, iPad and iPhone, Android 4.4 and later, and Internet Explorer 11 (on Windows 8 and later), Chrome version 50 and later, and Safari 8 and later.
The service is limited to two simultaneous streams per account, which AT&T said is designed to ensure it delivers the highest-quality video possible to devices in the home. AT&T recommends DirecTV Now customers have broadband connection speeds of 2.5 to 5 Mbps per stream for HD quality, while it recommends 150 Kbps to 2.5 Mbps broadband connection speeds for mobile devices.
The service also offers more than 15,000 TV episodes and movies on-demand. DirecTV Now does not include DVR functions, which are slated to be introduced in 2017, but it does include a 72-hour “catch-up” VOD feature for programming on many channels.
DirecTV Now is available in the U.S., but not in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Users are unable to access the service outside the United States.
As an incentive for AT&T wireless customers to sign up for DirecTV Now, the telco does not count the OTT service’s streaming video toward monthly data usage. The FCC’s wireless bureau issued letters to both AT&T and Verizon asserting that such “zero-rated” services are anticompetitive and violate the agency’s network neutrality rules — a charge both telco giants have refuted.