AT&T’s New Internet-based TV service is not in any way a cord cutter service nor should anybody even interpret it as being aimed at cord cutters. AT&T TV is nothing more than a shift in delivery system from small satellite dishes and bulky receivers to a system built on top of existing streaming software but billed and marketed the exact same way DirecTV has been marketed for years. Sign up for a two year contract and get the first year for half the price. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
What is AT&T really getting at with this service?
The new AT&T TV service is a cost cutting measure that will allow it to procure new customers without sending installers to homes with equipment that needs to be physically mounted on to a home. This was always a problem for DirecTV due to things like the of penetrating apartment communities, the rise of HOA’s, zoning rules, tree cover and a host of other factors. Now AT&T will put all of the onus of setting up TV service on the customer to download apps, signing up for an account and so on. And by making the service available via streaming apps it means that the service is one click away from anybody who has a smart TV or streaming box.
Offering Own Streaming Box
Like fellow satellite competitor, Dish Network, AT&T will be available via an Android TV box designed to deliver the service as the primary app. Dish has long offered the AirTV Player, now in its second iteration, as an option for users who want to start streaming its Sling TV service. The AT&T branded box boots into the AT&T TV app but still has all of the capabilities of the Android TV operating system as well including the Android TV App Store stocked with all of the streaming apps paid and free that users are familiar with as well as a remote control with Google Assistant built in. Absurdly though, AT&T’s commercials would seemingly have you believe that Google’s features are their idea.
Bundling services shotgun style
To make things more confusing for consumers AT&T’s constant push for corporate synergy means that the service will also be offered with numerous tie ins to tangentially related products. For instance. Remember U-Verse? That is a high speed Internet service offered by AT&T that never took off nationally which also marketed TV service. The company is essentially dropping all mentions of its TV service as far as attracting new customers but If and its a big IF, a customer happens to live in a place where U-verse Internet is offered, AT&T will bundle the new TV service (where possible) with 1 gigabit AT&T internet for about $80 per month. But there are not many places where customers can get 1 Gigabit Internet. But If….then. Another synergy involves HBO Max. If AT&T TV customers add HBO to their TV packages, they will get HBO Max for free when it launches. There are even more bundling packages involving broadband and cellphone data plans out there to confound any potential user who is not overtly tech savvy when calling to look into service.
Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing
The overall aim of this service is to try and expand on its potential user base. It will allow AT&T to offer a traditional style TV subscription to anybody who has internet. But here is why it is going to be a confusing damn mess.
First of all the reporting on it is already all over the place. Reporters who should know better are talking about AT&T and how it offers Netflix and Hulu etc. This is because of the possibility of accessing Android TV apps via the Android TV box. AT&T is not trying to market Hulu or Crackle or especially its rival live streaming services. Those are all just things that can also be accessed via the same delivery system.
Some people just want the cable guy to make it work
Sure there will be lots of people out there who are comfortable setting up a streaming box who will be more than happy to skip the hassle of having an appointment for a technician to come to their home. But others will be totally caught off guard. There are millions and millions of people out there who do not know the first thing about setting up these things even though it is relatively simple to those of us in the know.
It will get lumped with Sling TV and other cable replacements and muddle the issue
This will not happen on purpose but it is inevitable
People will confuse it with ATT TV Now
Yes the same company offers a product with a name that is one word different but a totally different price structure, contract structure, channel lineup etc. This will cause the company so many headaches from people signing up for both services to having one and thinking they have the other that it will tie up help lines. The company should have just called one of them something a lot different.
Barriers to entry
Imagine this conversation. A potential customer who has never had anything but traditional cable now has a cable bill for $160.00 for TV alone. They get a flyer in the mail that says “SAVE BIG ON TV AND INTERNET WITH AT&T TV. So they call. They speak with someone based outside the US who works off a script and not long time knowledge of the service (because it just came out and nobody has longtime experience with the service). They say they want it.
“What package do you want?”
“Oh what do you mean? I just want my channels?”
20 minutes later after all of the channels have been figured out we rejoin the conversation.
“We also offer you 5000 apps.”
“What do you mean?”
“With AT&T TV advanced player you can use Pandora and Google play and even control things around your house like smart lightbulbs”
“I don’t like Penara bread”
“No mam not Penara bread, Pandora the music app”
(said like Mathew McConaughey)….. Now Imagine she’s your Grandma.
ATT&T TV FAQS
Here are some facts about the service that I picked up by talking to the customer specialist via chat. (Which we highly recommend instead of the phone)
- Anybody who signs up for the service will get new customer pricing. If a customer is a U-Verse or DirecTV customer they can sign up for the service and get the same half price discount as a new customer who has never bought anything with AT&T.
- AT&T TV will now be offered in places that are eligible for U-Verse instead of U-Verse.
- AT&T TV does offer “local channels”
- This is a contract based service like other traditional services. The contract is two years long and cancelling it costs a maximum of $480.00 dollars to break. Customers can take $20.00 off the fee for each month that they have had the service.
- users only have 14 days to decide whether to keep the service or not.
- Users get the Android box for free for being a customer
- if users cancel they have to send back the Android box
- If users cancel they can ship all the equipment back via a UPS or Fed Ex store
- Customers can access AT&T via apps for other streaming devices. Things like Roku and Fire TV etc.
- Users can access 3 streams at once
- There is unlimited DVR space
- AT&T recommends users have at least 8 megabits per second per stream being used at a time. This means that if users have a very low end DSL service and try to run two TV’s at the same time the quality may really struggle.
- There are thousands of on-demand titles available
- Oh and most importantly This is a totally different service from the other AT&T streaming service “AT&T Now”