DirecTV Takes Aim at Sling TV With 3 OTT Options Coming in Q4
The field of over-the-top viewing options will get a little more crowded this year. Satellite television company DirecTV, which is owned by AT&T, announced that it will offer cord-cutters and cord-nevers three streaming plans in the fourth quarter of 2016. Two of the plans are paid, one is ad-supported, and all are available without contracts.
The first plan, called DirecTV Now, is a clear challenger to Dish's Sling TV. It will offer multiple packages that deliver basic cable channels, along with the option to add premium channels. While it won't offer local channels at launch, DirecTV plans to add that in sometime in the future. That would be an important differentiator, as Sling TV doesn't include local channels. The plan will be available to wired or wireless customers on a variety of devices.
The second, DirecTV Mobile, will be available through an app and is intended for mobile device viewing. It looks to be a lower-priced offering than DirecTV Now. All DirecTV is saying is that it will combine premium and made-for-digital programming. With AT&T the parent company, this service's data use could well be exempt from data caps.
The free, ad-supported option will be called DirecTV Preview. Available to wired and wireless viewers, this will offer programming from AT&T's Audience channel, as well as other unspecified DirecTV programming. The name suggests it's a teaser intended to promote paid options.
There were a lot of holes in DirecTV's announcement, such as pricing and lineups. Each package will offer simultaneous streams, something Sling TV lacks. DirecTV didn't say anything about cloud DVR service, which would be a huge differentiator and isn't offered by Sling TV. With so much OTT competition, AT&T and DirecTV are going to have to make these packages as attractive as they can.
This isn't DirecTV's first go at OTT: It debuted Yaveo, a Spanish-language OTT service in December 2014, but shut it down one year later.
The skinny bundle becomes a lot more useful with the addition of a 50-hour cloud DVR, but that service comes with an additional $5 monthly fee.
The introductory price is nice, but that's all there is to love about AT&T's DirecTV Now service which is full of commercials and lacks a DVR.
Customers will be able to stream over 100 channels for $35 per month, but AT&T hasn't announced what those channels are. CBS won't be bundled at launch.
In a surprise move, AT&T's CEO says the skinny bundle will come with 100 premium channels and no "junk nobody wants."
For a low price, Spanish-speaking U.S. customers can get a selection of on-demand and live video content.
Once a hidden option, online-only plans are now easier to get, but only for those who can't subscribe to standard DirecTV service.
A Streaming Media West panel on the future of pay TV authentication and access showed exactly how far viewers are from easy steaming.