AT&T announced today that it will be launching three new streaming options for DirecTV, debuting in the fourth quarter of 2014. They will be free-standing services that don’t require annual contracts, satellite dishes or set-top boxes, available over a wired or wireless Internet connection from any provider and from virtually any device — smartphone, tablet, smart TV, OTT set-top box or PC.
Plans for an over-the-top service leveraging AT&T content were first revealed by AT&T chairman and CEO Randall L. Stephenson in December at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York City. At the time, he said that full details would come out in January, but the big reveal didn’t come until today.
The three upcoming DirecTV services are:
DirecTV Now: Offering on-demand and live programming from many networks, plus premium add-on options. Customers will be able to access the service over a wired or wireless Internet connection and on Internet-enabled devices.
DirecTV Mobile: A mobile-first experience for watching premium video and made-for-digital content directly on a smartphone, regardless of the wireless provider.
DirecTV Preview: A free ad-supported service showcasing a selection of content from AT&T’s Audience Network, networks and other sources, as well millennial-focused video from Otter Media, a joint venture of AT&T and The Chernin Group.
“These new video subscription models reflect the flexible content choices, viewing options and simple, transparent pricing that consumers want. AT&T intends to be the first company to deliver that flexibility, along with an effortless customer experience,” said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, in a statement. “These offers will provide a broad range of customers with greater freedom and choice to watch, binge and even buy premium content, regardless of how and where they enjoy their entertainment.
AT&T said that each service will come with a set number of simultaneous sessions, which gives them an edge on competitor Dish Network’s Sling TV — an over-the-top streaming service offering content from Disney/ESPN, HBO, AMC, A&E, Turner, Scripps, Epix, Univision and Maker Studios — which only allows a single stream at a time. The company has not revealed pricing for the two subscription services (Now and Mobile).
AT&T did not name the content providers for the DirecTV streaming services today (apart from the Audience Network and Otter Media), but, back in December, Stephenson said they would include HBO, A+E, Viacom, Starz, ESPN, TNT and NFL Sunday Ticket. AT&T has access to the content through stacking and mobile rights negotiated for DirecTV, which it acquired in a deal valued at $48.5 billion that closed in July 2015.