AT&T to offer streaming version of DirecTV

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by Athlon646464, Mar 9, 2019.

  1. NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    Yeah, he realizes that direct-to-consumer SVOD is increasingly the future of TV and the middleman-delivered MVPD cable bundle is slowly fading in the rearview mirror (although it's not going away any time soon). So they're positioning their strategy for that reality. The upcoming SVOD -- which they're rumored to have tentatively dubbed "HBO Max" -- will be their #1 priority going forward.

    Come mid-2020, if not before, I expect that every new subscriber to an AT&T-delivered cable bundle (except maybe those on the super-skinny Watch TV service) -- whether delivered via OTT/IP or satellite -- will have HBO Max automatically included in the base rate. Why would AT&T make optional a service that they see as the center of their video strategy?

    Also note how the story I linked to above says that some Turner original shows will debut FIRST on HBO Max before airing on their TBS, TNT or TruTV cable channels. SVOD will become the dog that wags the cable channel tail.

    Having HBO Max be a non-optional part of their MVPD packages is the same thing that Comcast will do with their upcoming NBCU SVOD. If you subscribe to a cable TV channel package from Comcast, you get the SVOD (with forced ads) for no extra cost. Non-Comcast cable TV customers will have to pay for it (and they're apparently thinking the price will be around $10, which is way too high, IMO.)

    BTW, I think the name HBO Max is going to confuse folks into thinking it's a combination of HBO and its sister service Cinemax. (Although, who knows, maybe Cinemax originals will be included in HBO Max?) Cinemax has for decades been abbreviated as Max. Note how the upper-level DTV Now package, which automatically includes Cinemax, is also named Max. If HBO Max will have Cinemax rolled into it, the name makes sense. Otherwise, I still think they should go with "HBO+" as I've been predicting.

    Last thought: I think we may see all the linear HBO channels except the original HBO, HBO Family and HBO Latino die next year. AT&T sees HBO's future as mainly an on-demand SVOD, not as linear cable channels. Note that HBO, HBO Family and HBO Latino are the only linear HBO channels included in the new Plus and Max packages on DTV Now.
     
  2. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Uverse TV will remain a thing for years, even if they stop offering it to new customers once they finally eventually someday get the 'Directv via IP' product out the door.

    I don't think he's necessarily mixing messages saying that Directv will see a lot of losses from low APRU i.e. low/no profit customers if they stop offering fat discounts just to keep people around or teaser rates to get people to sign up knowing they will dump for someone else's teaser rate the minute their contract ends (or sooner if that someone else is willing to pay the ETF) Because by "in check and stable" he is probably talking profit wise not customer count wise. He's a beancounter, he cares how much profit a sector is making, not whether it has an impressive subscriber count - it would be easy to pump up that subscriber count by offering great deals, but if they lose money on those customers over the short time they're around when install + discounts are considered what's the point?

    In the past giving great deals for people to sign up was seen as a winning strategy, because you could pretty much assume everyone "needs" a cable/satellite TV package, so your only competition is with Dish and whoever the CATV incumbent is at that customer's address. People are lazy, and many will stick with what they know so once you have them signed up a lot of them will stick around for a long time through inertia. Price-wise all you had to do was offer some discounts if people called and said "hey I have this great offer from Dish" that roughly matches it and you'd keep them happy. These days you can't offer discounts big enough to compete with streaming options so why even try? Let the people who don't need what traditional TV offers (primarily live sports that you can't get elsewhere) leave, because the only way you can keep them around with discounts is to offer discounts so large you lose money on them.
     
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  3. NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    I wonder if the days of Visa gift cards for new subscribers and first-year promo pricing on two-year contracts for new DTV subs will be ending soon? Comcast does that stuff too, to an extent, so it would seem a little risky to me for AT&T to completely cut all that out and just say "Here's the regular monthly rate that you'll pay starting from day one." Maybe they'll preserve most of the initial incentives for those who bundle DTV with AT&T Internet?
     
  4. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

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    With the public views expressing no concern over tv losses by ATT, it wouldn’t surprise me. Of course D* used to spout that better customer line a lot before ATT took them over, so maybe not.
    To my view ATT seems to be just flailing about with all of it.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
     
  5. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Sounds like cognitive dissonance to me. Sure, they are losing subscribers - but they are not "important" subscribers. Just the subscribers AT&T|DIRECTV can live without.

    The adjustments to how they are reporting their numbers (combining DIRECTV satellite and UVERSE as "premium TV") help bury the details.
    Financially, "video entertainment" revenues were down 1.8% 1Q (vs 1Q 2018) ... but expenses were also down (it is amazing how much DIRECTV satellite saves when gross subscriber additions are down and they are not paying for installations). Some of DISH's best financial quarters were when subscriber additions were low. DIRECTV is reaping a similar benefit. Unfortunately DIRECTV is not growing their streaming business at a pace that keeps the overall susbcriber count high. The concept of adding cheaper to obtain customers fails when AT&T is barely adding streaming customers (and LOST 83 thousand streaming customers 1Q 2019).

    But it is OK ... they are not important customers. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
     
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  6. b4pjoe

    b4pjoe New Member

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    I call BS on that statement.
     
  7. CraigerM

    CraigerM Well-Known Member

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    Found this interesting article about AT&T's TV strategy. If I read this right they think that their wont be a third internet streaming service. They think AT&T is turning DTV Now from a skinny service to a premium TV service and wont compete with YouTubeTV. Watch TV will compete with YouTube. Launching DTV Now on the Osprey box will make DTV Now become DTV over IP.

    DirecTV Now's New Pricing Explained - It's About the Satellites
     
  8. makaiguy

    makaiguy Icon

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    I don't think ATT themselves have figured this all out yet. Speculation in the meanwhile without solid inside information is a waste of electrons and pixels.
     
  9. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    I can't believe they'd get rid of that stuff entirely, just cut back on the dollar amounts so they don't attract the sort of customers who will leave the minute the discounts are over.

    If they avoid giving away the farm to new customers and people who call and ask for credits like clockwork, they might be able to cut back on the price increases while maintaining their margins for everyone else. What they want to avoid is losing customers who have been with them for years, never asked for credits, but finally got fed up with the yearly increases. If they were able to get smaller yearly increases they'll hold onto more of that type of customer which is clearly their most valuable.
     
  10. CraigerM

    CraigerM Well-Known Member

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  11. NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    Unfortunately, this article is behind a paywall. But yes, I'm sure that the app for HBO Max (or whatever the streaming service is called) will be automatically installed on the C71 Osprey box and AT&T will put some kind of very noticeable prompts in the UI pointing out the existence of the app.

    Or maybe even it won't exist as a separate app on that device. If my hunch is correct that the AT&T/DirecTV channel bundle that will be distributed through this box will automatically include HBO Max, then it would make sense for all of its on-demand content to simply show up in the VOD part of the UI (the same way that regular HBO content already does if you have an HBO subscription).
     
  12. NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    BTW, I noticed today that AT&T is selling the new Plus and Max packages (the same ones that are the new default options on DirecTV Now) as options for new customers who sign up online for DirecTV satellite. But instead of the $50 and $70 monthly prices like on DTV Now, DTV is charging $110 and $130! Plus an RSN fee on Max! And they still require a 24-month agreement! But at least those prices include traditional HD DVR service for one TV (not that that justifies a $60 price difference).

    Obviously no one is going to choose Plus or Max from DTV satellite (the same way no one is going to choice Choice, Entertainment, etc. from DTV Now). My guess is that AT&T just wanted to get those options into their ordering systems now and they will change the prices (and, in the cases of Plus and Max, the channel line-ups somewhat) systemwide later this year.
     
  13. TDK1044

    TDK1044 Godfather

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    To me, this is a classic example of AT&T trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Clearly, the future is streaming. Satellite will be with us for another decade or so, before it inevitably fades away. The future is not about rolling trucks for installs and aligning dishes, it's about selling a streaming product that offers the customer a variety of different program offerings depending on your needs. The top packages should offer everything that the D* satellite service offers now, and the low end packages offering just the basics. They don't need OTT and DirecTV Now, they need one streaming platform offering low, mid range, and high end packages.
     
  14. JoeTheDragon

    JoeTheDragon Hall Of Fame

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    att needs to upgrade it's copper subs to more bandwidth. Will they do something like get OTT tv and they give you boosted to LINE MAX speeds for free or at least 100/100 fiber?
     
  15. NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    At this point, my thinking is that the "new" home-centric thin-client streaming TV service coming soon from AT&T will basically just be DirecTV Now but with a few new tweaks. Maybe it continues to be called DirecTV Now or maybe the whole thing gets rebranded as AT&T TV. Either way, I'll go ahead and lay down my predictions. We'll see how much I get right, ha.
    • This will roll out in Aug. 2019.
    • There was be three main channel packages available: Starter, Plus and Max.
    • Starter will cost $30 and contain pretty much the same 35+ channels now available on AT&T WatchTV, but also include HBO too. Note that this package does not include any local broadcast networks or all-sports channels.
    • Plus and Max will sell for their current regular prices of $50 and $70 (with no additional fees for broadcast or RSN channels). About a month ago, DirecTV Now began offering a $20 discount off of each for the first three months. Just this week, they changed that to $15 off for the first two months. By August, those deals will have lapsed. Plus and Max will still both include HBO (and Max will still include Cinemax too). They'll have all the same channels they currently do, but by that time, AT&T will also have added popular channels from A+E Networks (A&E, History, Lifetime), Discovery Networks (HGTV, Discovery, Food, Travel, ID), and AMC Networks (AMC, IFC, BBCAmerica). If PBS stations aren't included at launch, they'll be added at some point in the coming year as they generally become available on streaming cable TV services (vMVPDs).
    • All plans (with the possible exception of Starter) will come with 20 hours of cloud DVR storage, with recordings auto-deleting after 30 days. Like now, you'll be able to FF in all recordings from any channel, including past ads. (Ad-free premium channels still won't be recordable though, but that doesn't matter much since all their content is available on-demand.)
    • You can upgrade to 100 (or maybe 120) total hours of cloud DVR, with a longer auto-delete period (3 months? 6? 9?) for an extra $10/mo.
    • Niche cable channels that aren't included in Starter, Plus or Max might be offered in the form of add-on packs that can be added to one of those base packages. Showtime, Starz, Cinemax and Epix will be offered as a la carte premium add-ons.
    • Each subscription allows 2 simultaneous steams on any combination of devices, whether in or out of home. Each additional simultaneous stream will cost $5/mo. Streams can be accessed on AT&T's own box or through their app on other devices; how the stream is accessed makes no difference in terms of the simultaneous stream limit.
    • AT&T's optional 4K HDR Android TV-powered set-top-box and remote will be sold directly to customers (maybe $80 each), perhaps with the option to spread the cost out over sequential monthly bills. (The rumor is that AT&T wants to get out of the STB rental business). I definitely expect AT&T will actually give a lot of them away as promotional items for new subscribers (maybe if you commit to sticking with the service a certain number of months or because you bundle it together with AT&T Internet/Fiber). Rather than having long-term commitments, like the 2-year agreement DirecTV satellite has in exchange for deeply discounted monthly rates the first year, this service will be sold with a "no-games-playing" everyday standard price. The free boxes will be the up-front bonus for certain customers. (I still expect folks getting AT&T Internet/Fiber plus TV to score up-front Visa gift cards, though.)
    • Unless you're getting AT&T Internet/Fiber installed at the same time, the TV box will be a simple self-install option that is shipped to you by UPS/FedEx. (WAY cheaper for AT&T than a satellite TV installation!) For those who can't even connect a box to their TV and wifi, AT&T will send one of their in-home sales consultants to help you out (and also "helpfully" try to sell you other AT&T services while they're there).
    • Netflix and YouTube will come pre-loaded on the box, along with the Google Play app store, which by that time should offer the Amazon Prime Video app for Android TV. You can definitely expect the upcoming on-demand streaming service from AT&T's WarnerMedia (called HBO Max or HBO+) to be integrated into the box too. Like regular HBO, a subscription to HBO+ will be non-optionally included in Starter, Plus and Max for no additional cost.
    • Although it will be available to anyone with home broadband from any provider (e.g. Comcast, Verizon, Charter, etc.), bundling this service with AT&T Internet/Fiber will knock $10 off the price and also score you unlimited data from them, i.e. no data cap. (And running the service over AT&T's own network could only make it more reliable, one would think.)
    • Uverse TV -- which is only available to homes wired for AT&T Internet/Fiber -- will cease to be sold to new customers. Existing customers will have a long while (couple years) to transition over to the new service before AT&T pulls the plug on Uverse TV.
    • DirecTV satellite will continue to be sold for several years but AT&T will focus their marketing on rural areas that lack broadband service. Anyone with broadband will have the option to go with the streaming TV service and AT&T will price it cheaper overall to attract consumers in that direction. Starter, Plus and Max will also be available as channel packages to satellite subscribers. (As mentioned above, Plus and Max are already listed as options during online sign-up for satellite DirecTV but with current prices of $110 and $130 rather than $50 and $70!)
     
  16. Soccernut

    Soccernut AllStar

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    Some good ideas, lets see what happens, I just hope the whole thing works well technically.
     
  17. TDK1044

    TDK1044 Godfather

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    Yep. I think a lot of this is right on the money.
     
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  18. dtv757

    dtv757 Icon

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    Oh no not cloud DVR ... optimum has that and your recordings auto delete in 2 weeks

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
     
  19. wmb

    wmb Godfather

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    For me,this is the biggest problem with the currently offered DirecTV Now primary packages. I have the current $65 old middle tier pack, it was $45 when I subscribed.

    For me, I got tired of paying $23 for HD, whole home DVR, etc. Add four receivers at $7 each (one free), and I was paying about the same for infrastructure than content cost under DirecTV Now. That cost has gone up. I am tempted to go the PlayStation Vue, but I'm married, and its not only my decision. Going from DirecTV to DirecTV Now was a struggle despite a $75 per month savings (after non renewal of discounts) with little difference in content. The content package cost went from $70 to $45. No taxes or fees on DirecTV NOW.

    My foresight on the TV content delivery industry right now is hazy. I foresee a future of consolidation. I am not sure I see a future for the multichannel providers like DirecTV as mass media companies market direct to consumers. Hulu, Netflix, Apple are trying to create a industry for content aggregators. We see the seeds of the disruptive changes that are coming, but its difficult to divine the final outcome
     
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  20. NashGuy

    NashGuy Active Member

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    Yeah, that's one of the main things I'm concerned about, particularly the reliability of the cloud DVR. I don't know why it has taken AT&T sooooo long to develop a cloud DVR and work out the bugs given that little companies like Philo have had a (reportedly) rock-solid cloud DVR from the start. That said, I don't seem to read as many customer rants about DTV Now unreliability this year, so maybe they've gotten the kinks ironed out.

    2 weeks?! Wow. That's a crazy policy. Can't believe a mainstream cable TV provider is doing that.

    Well, we know that the basic included cloud DVR in DTV Now has always been 20 hours with a 30-day auto-delete. It's been rumored for over a year that they're going to introduce an expanded cloud DVR (either 100 more hours or 100 total hours, it's unclear) with a longer auto-delete period. I seem to recall a rumor that it would expand to 90 days. But given that YouTube TV includes at no extra charge unlimited storage with a 9-month period while Hulu's enhanced cloud DVR (extra $10) stores 200 hours with unlimited retention (no auto-delete), I think AT&T will need to do better than 120 hr/90 days for an extra $10. I think they should either remove the auto-delete policy completely or at least stretch it out to 9 months to match YouTube TV.

    Yeah, when those new Plus and Max packages rolled out in March, everyone (including me) thought they were pretty crummy since they were missing so many channels. I didn't understand the longer game that AT&T was playing at the time. I'm not sure if all those missing channels (from Viacom, A+E, Discovery, AMC) were left out of Plus and Max because AT&T didn't have the contractual rights yet to include them OR if AT&T chose to leave them out to enhance their bargaining positions in the looming contract renegotiations with those network groups. (I hear AT&T cut a very hard bargain with Viacom and they're apparently still working over A+E.) At any rate, I do think we'll see most (but perhaps not all) of those groups' channels added to Plus and Max in the coming weeks/months.

    My guess is that the original DTVN packages (which are essentially the same as the standard satellite packages) are still being offered to new DTVN subscribers (at very high prices) because AT&T is contractually obligated to always offer packages that include channels from all of their major network providers, including A+E, Discovery, etc. Since Plus and Max don't yet fulfill that obligation, the old packages have to stick around. But once Plus and Max are filled out, the old packages will stop being sold, at least to new streaming subscribers (and maybe to new satellite subscribers too).

    Given all the baggage that DTVN has accumulated over the past 2.5 years -- a reputation for being buggy/unstable, instability in the channel line-ups and pricing, a perception of being a budget "cord-cutter" as opposed to premium TV service, etc. -- it would not at all surprise me if AT&T decided to "shut down" DTVN and resurrect it (with the pricing and policies I outlined above) as a "new" service called AT&T TV. That brand would also help to differentiate it in consumers' minds from the DirecTV satellite service (something that has always been a challenge for DTVN).

    I could easily imagine, come August, a splashy announcement for "the new AT&T TV". Meanwhile, DTVN immediately stops allowing new sign-ups (redirecting them to AT&T TV) while existing customers are sent a nice email saying "how much we've appreciated serving you but unfortunately the DirecTV Now service will cease to exist at the end of this year. But click here to sign up for an even better experience with the new AT&T TV!" That would be an easy way to dump all those money-losing customers on the Go Big package with grandfathered pricing. Consumers can't hold a service to its word about a "permanent" deal if the service ceases to exist.

    Yes, things are definitely moving in the direction of "direct-to-consumer" bundles of subscription content and away from the old model of cable TV providers who act as middlemen aggregators. AT&T sees this too, which is why they're building up HBO to be their horse in the direct-to-consumer race. Later this year, they'll debut an expanded bundle service, centered on HBO, with all sorts of other WarnerMedia content added, including the latest stuff airing on their basic cable channels like TBS and TNT.

    AT&T sees that "HBO+" service, not cable channel bundles that they resell through DirecTV satellite or DirecTV Now or AT&T TV, as their real future. And that's why they're going to make sure that every new subscriber that they sign up for any of their cable channel services automatically has the HBO+ service included in their base package. But they know that the transition will be a long, slow one, so they obviously can't just stop selling cable channel services now. There's a dwindling, but still very substantial, amount of money to be made on them over the next decade.
     

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