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AT&T TV Launches, Shoves AT&T Now Aside

AT&T TV Now — once the key service in AT&T’s video strategy and launched just three years ago — could soon be joining Sony’s PlayStation Vue in the streaming TV graveyard.

In a note to investors last week, MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson said that the virtual multichannel video programming distributor — recently rechristened from its original moniker, DirecTV Now — “is essentially exiting the business.”

Certainly, it’s a stunning fall from grace for a live-streaming platform that boasted 1.8 million users as of the middle of 2018, but has declined to only around 1.1 million as of the end of the third quarter.

AT&T some time ago stopped offering aggressive promotions for the platform — everything from free Roku devices to months of free service to unlimited wireless subscribers.

And the wireless giant is well on the way to replacing AT&T TV Now with the confusingly named AT&T TV, which is basically a streamed version of DirecTV satellite TV.

AT&T TV, which just rolled into four more markets, is being piloted in around 15 regions, with a national launch scheduled for next year. It delivers a full-featured bundle of over 70 channels, including a 500-Gigabyte DVR and free Android TV set-top, for $60 a month.

This more than undercuts the value proposition of the vMVPD, which launched in November 2016 delivering a fairly robust bundle of channels for $35 a month, but is now offering only around 45 channels for $65 a month.

Speaking at the Wells Fargo Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Dec. 3, AT&T chief financial officer John Stephens talked up AT&T TV, as well as the conglomerate’s soon-to-launch HBO Max SVOD platform.

He noted, for example, that with AT&T no longer putting satellite dishes on top of houses, and enabling the customer to install AT&T TV themselves, “There’s going to be significant capital efficiency.”

Not once, though, was the former centerpiece to the wireless company’s video strategy, AT&T Now, even mentioned.