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I got an email to do a survey from DirecTV Research Team. Not from DirecTV.com but from "[email protected]" with the text at the bottom of the email "This email is from [email protected], a third-party email run by Research Results Inc. DIRECTV Research Team has contracted SKIM, an independent research firm, to conduct this survey. The information gathered will be used for internal purposes only with DIRECTV Research Team. If you have any questions at all regarding this survey or if you have any technical difficulties, please email SKIM at [email protected]."

First thing I thought was spam or even possible a scam but I decided to go through the survery anyway. Pretty sure it is not a scam as it was just a simple survey.

About midway through I got to this part:

View attachment 32395

Hmmm...interesting. So I continued to the next page asking me to click the top 3 from this list.

View attachment 32396

Further on and most interesting were these asking me to pick the top two I would prefer.

View attachment 32397
This new 4K HDR replacement for the Genie Mini, which includes apps for Netflix, HBO Max, Prime Video, etc., is clearly either the existing DTV Stream box (C71-KW400) running Android TV Operator Tier or it's a second-generation version of that box which has yet to be released. I imagine when used on the satellite side, fetching live satellite TV and DVR recordings from a Genie/Genie 2, it will have a little different UI and maybe different firmware than when deployed for use with DTV Stream.

And for those who remember, the original User Manual filed with the C71-KW400 at the FCC a year or two before it ever came out hinted that that device might be used with some future Genie 3 referenced in the manual as the "HS-27". Apparently plans for that were scrapped -- why sink additional resources on the dying satellite side of the business? -- so they've just made the C71 compatible with the current Genie 2, i.e. the HS-17.
 

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This sounds pretty sweet too:

Backup satellite signal protection
• Continue watching TV over broadband if there's a
signal interruption
• Forget worrying about weather-related issues
• Seamlessly switch from satellite to streaming and
never miss a moment
Getting these units deployed and in use by DTV satellite customers makes for a seamless future transition of those customers over to DTV Stream if and when the customer (or the company) wants that to happen.
 

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Given that the DIRECTV Stream Device doesn't support DECA, this would be a fairly radical departure and not a drop-in replacement for a Genie Mini.
Maybe it's more accurate to say that this forthcoming box will be more of a direct replacement for the current Wireless Genie Mini (C41W) than the Genie Mini (C61).
 

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I'm inclined to believe that this isn't something designed around AT&T TV and is (or will be) a new product that includes MoCA functionality. Something very much like DISH's new Joey 4.
Anything's possible but I don't see DTV making a new dedicated piece of hardware to bring Android TV to DTV satellite customers just so that it can have built-in MoCA. I think they'll just dual-purpose either the existing DTV Stream box (C71) or roll out a next-gen replacement for that box to serve both use cases. So on the satellite side, the box would work very much like DISH's Wireless Joey 4, which runs Android TV Operator Tier and connects via wifi to a full-blown Hopper DVR to fetch live satellite TV streams as well as DVR recordings. The Android TV OS and its apps reside directly on the Joey.

 

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Directv is much more profitable than Directv Stream, because of all those fees it adds that are almost all profit. That's the biggest reason they don't want to "migrate" anyone off satellite, even if they could guarantee they'd land on Stream and stay there.
The problem for DirecTV, of course, is that people DO keep migrating off their satellite TV service. About 2 million of them each year for a few years now. And I expect that number will be even higher in 2023, after the loss of NFL Sunday Ticket.

It doesn't matter how efficient or profitable a service is if no one wants it any more. The good ol' days for the cable TV industry -- whether delivered via coax or DBS -- are ending. People are shifting to lower cost, lower profit margin services, whether DTC streaming services like Netflix or vMVPDs like YouTube TV. And DirecTV knows that over time, nearly all their satellite customers with home broadband (except for a few die-hard DBS enthusiasts) will dump them for some streaming service or another. So DirecTV Stream is their attempt to retain at least some of those customers. Maybe they'd prefer their sat customers to stick around until the last bird dies but they know almost none will. So better to try to convert you into a Stream customer than lose you completely.

Given the installation/acquisition costs of new sat customers, and the amount of churn that exists, I can believe that DirecTV Stream might be as profitable for them as a new sat customer is over the first two years of service, i.e. the length of their initial contract. Beyond that, probably not. But then, given the rate at which the industry, and especially DirecTV satellite service, is losing customers, they're probably not much concerned about a longer time horizon than that. TPG is almost certainly not concerned with longer than that as they bought their stake a year ago and reportedly want to be out within 3 years. So right now is all about re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, getting the books tidied up as best they can, to try to position the company for some kind of M&A deal.
 

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Not new innovations but missing from the HR54 and likely never to be available. The focus is on clients and streaming.
Yup. I'll be mildly surprised if the forthcoming new client receiver is even exclusive to the satellite side as opposed to being a dual-purpose box that can work standalone for DTV Stream and in conjunction with an HR54 or HS17 for satellite. Hard to see them sinking money into developing new equipment exclusively for the declining sat business, especially with the expectation that sooner or later it will merge with DISH, which is generally regarded as having the superior hardware platform. So I don't expect we'll ever see an HR64 or HS27.
 

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So DirecTV might see this as a way to transition people to the streaming side, but doesn't make sense to do that 10 years ahead of time when the tech will be more advanced in 5 - 7 yrs.
DTV may or may not be actively trying to transition current sat customers over to Stream. (I've read at least some sat customers saying they've been aggressively pitched to switch to Stream.) But even if they're not actively encouraging it, DTV knows that tons of their sat customers who have broadband are ditching satellite for something else anyway. This has been going on for years now. So if a customer is going to leave DTV sat, of course they'd prefer it to be for DTV Stream. And having a sat customer already using a box and remote that can work with DTV Stream would make that transition that much more convenient and therefore likely. (If my parents could've kept their old DISH channel package with the on-screen UI, channel numbers and remote control they knew, but cut their bill significantly by switching from satellite to streaming delivery of the service, they'd probably have done it. That wasn't an option, so they switched to YouTube TV.)

While it's true that DTV Stream has a lower profit margin than the satellite service does (for a longtime customer whose installation and hardware costs are already covered), they'd rather you convert immediately from sat to Stream and stick around another few years than leave sat in a few months for YouTube TV, Hulu Live, or just Netflix + OTA and never look back.
 

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Given the source of what we do know, I wouldn't expect to hear anything solid until either the FCC equipment authorization documents come out from under hidden status or DIRECTV spills the beans.
Is there any reason to believe, based on info in the customer survey or otherwise, that the forthcoming device is anything other than the A21 which passed through the FCC in June of last year?


FWIW, the A21 has specs nearly identical to that of the new Hopper Plus and Joey 4 boxes (which also run Android TV Operator Tier) that DISH just began distributing to customers widely this month. Both have a 2.6 GHz quad-core Broadcom processor (A21 has the 72180 model while the DISH boxes have the 72160) and both have 4 GB RAM and 16 GB flash memory for storage.
 

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In earlier posts it was suggested a software update could make the DTV Stream box work with DTV. Maybe that is what is taking so long for the A21-KW? AT&T changed its mind on it just being a DTV Stream box?
Yes, that's my guess. Rather than release it first for DTV Stream and then later for DTV, they held it back until they got the updated sat-specific software/firmware done so that it could be released for both services at the same time.
 

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The A21KW bears a striking resemblance to the C71KW and the carries the AT&T designation so I'm guessing not.
The C71 sports a quad-core 1.6 GHz proc and (I think) only 2 GB RAM, while the A21 has a quad-core 2.6 GHz with 4 GB RAM. Plus it's a jump from WiFi 5 to 6 and Android TV 10 to 11. Users have long complained that the C71 is a bit sluggish, at least in terms of launching and running Android TV apps. (They've apparently tweaked the core DTV Stream software to run well on it.) The Android TV experience should be significantly better on the A21. Early reviews of the similarly spec'ed new DISH Android TV boxes say that they're generally fast and fluid (although some folks are saying that satellite video jump back/forward and channel changes pulled from a connected Hopper DVR server are slower than when done on the Hopper itself).
 

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Newer C71's have 4GB of ram The software never uses above like 1.75. Its clear its written to not take advantage of that ram
Thanks. The Android TV Guide website denoted the C71's RAM as "2 GB/4 GB" and I figured it was a situation like what you described. Too bad half the RAM is wasted for those folks who have the units with 4 GB.
 

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Another reason they may have been holding off on introducing the A21 is to sell through their inventory of new C71 units. Perhaps we'll see them initially sell only new A21 units to both DTV Stream and sat customers while Stream customers will still have the option of buying cheaper refurbished C71s.
 

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I've been a DTV sat customer for 27 years, they keep moving channels I normally watch into higher tier packages. I called customer retention, it would be an additional $60 to get those channels back and they really could care less. But they did say I could get all those channels back for Less than I'm paying now with DirecTV stream. So other than us rural customers they see the writing on the wall
Yeah, I don't think DTV is proactively trying to migrate their sat customers over to Stream but they're definitely doing it on a reactive basis, especially when the customer complains about pricing.

I wonder how much longer they're going to keep those live 4K sports as the main differentiating feature between the two? (Yes, I know the sat service has NFLST and NFL Network while Stream lacks both but that probably won't be the case next season.)
 

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If they were worried about protecting their investment, why are they offering refurbished units at 50% off?
They give customers a 14 day no-risk trial. If you buy a box when you order service but then cancel within 14 days, they refund all your money and you have to return the box. The boxes also come with a 1-yr warranty and I assume the way that works is you send in your messed up box and they ship you a new or refurbished one and then try to fix the one you sent them.

So my guess is that they had quite a few of those returned boxes piled up. What else are they gonna do with them other than resell them? I'll bet some of the ones being sold on eBay were originally coming from AT&T. And then at some point, DTV just decided to resell them directly via their website to new customers. Why cut eBay in for 15% or whatever they take?
 

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Why would you do this? Smart TV and Roku already do it. Only reason to do it is maybe to simplify wiring and not have to change inputs. Doubt most people care about that.
Oh, a lot of people do care about not having to switch inputs and remotes (especially once they've experienced having all their TV together in one box). MVDPs are very much concerned about owning "Input 1" on their customers' TVs and not having them switch away to other devices. Because that's a slippery slope to cutting the cord and cancelling their cable TV service completely. "Why are we still paying $90 a month for cable TV when we seem to spend almost all our time on the Roku?"
 

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I wonder if you could use it as a separate streaming box if they decide to get rid of DTV Stream?
It's been confirmed that the current C71 DTV Stream box can be used purely to run Android TV apps if the user cancels DTV Stream service. I imagine it will be the same scenario with any future model that replaces it, as long as it continues to be sold to and owned by the user. That said, the advice I recently gave a DTV Stream customer who's about to cancel (or recently did) is to just pay $20 for the Onn 4K Android TV box from Walmart. I think it's probably going to be snappier in terms of UI navigation and app launching. Plus it will give you a better home screen and a remote without lots of buttons that no longer function. It also comes with a free 6-mo trial of Peacock Premium, which offsets the modest cost.

As for the supposedly forthcoming device for DTV sat users, as well as the new Android TV devices from DISH, it sounds like those boxes will have to be returned when the user cancels service completely.
 

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Too bad they don't have the DTV Stream for all Google TV devices. You could use the channel buttons with the DTV Stream APP if it was on the Tivo Stream 4k dongle. I wonder if that's because they really want you buying their devices?
Yeah, that's the only reason why I can figure that DTV Stream doesn't put out an app for Android TV/Google TV. They want to protect their own device with its custom remote that costs significantly more than comparable Android TV devices sold at retail.
 

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So if everything is driven through your DirecTV box, or if everything is driven through your SmartTV, most people will just not bother buying a Roku or ATV or Firestick, if the ease of use is there.
This is why industry observers think the race for streaming platform dominance will come down to smart TVs, not separate boxes/dongles. But for that to really come to pass, I think we're going to have to see smart TVs that remain fully supported and well-performing for the life of the TV (e.g. ~7 yrs on average, I think). Otherwise, you'll still have folks abandon their smart TV apps and connect a better streaming box. That said, smart TVs are getting at least somewhat better. (Wonder if we'll ever see Apple license their tvOS to a smart TV OEM? Or, perhaps more likely, if we'll ever see them put out their own line of premium smart TVs with built-in Siri smart speaker and webcam for FaceTime calls?)

Also, I think about those households that would prefer having the same UI and remote on all the TVs they regularly use rather than having a different system on each one because they're different brands/years of smart TV.
 
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