Updated: This story was updated to include details on AT&T's new pay TV strategy.
AT&T has simplified its rather confusing pay TV strategy, folding the virtual MVPD AT&T TV Now into AT&T TV, while orienting the latter into a vMVPD service that lacks contracts and proprietary leased equipment.
AT&T TV Now's remaining subscribers, which totaled 683,000 as of the end of September, will be rolled into AT&T TV, the company's more traditionally structured pay TV service.
AT&T TV, which also operates on the open internet, will move from annual to monthly contracts, and will no longer require customers to lease a proprietary Android TV set-tops. In addition to those AT&T's device, the service will now run on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV players and Google Chromecast dongles and sticks; iOS and Android mobile devices; and Samsung smart TVs, the company said.
“We’re bringing more value and simplicity by merging these two streaming services into a single AT&T TV experience,” said Vince Torres, senior VP of marketing for AT&T. “Customers can stream the best collection of live and on-demand programming on devices they already have, or they can get our exclusive AT&T TV Stream device to enjoy enhanced features and functionality.”
The move effectively kills AT&T TV Now, which started life as the $35-a-month DirecTV Now back in November 2016, growing on promotional steroids to reach 1.8 million subscribers by the summer of 2018.
AT&T TV Now becomes the second major competitor to bow out following the shuttering a year ago of Sony PlayStation Vue.
AT&T TV Now’s base-tier service offered 45-plus channels for $55 a month. AT&T TV is base priced at $70 a month for 65-plus channels.
AT&T TV monthly-contract packages come with 20-hours of cloud DVR storage included. For an additional $10 a month, customers can upgrade to 500 hours of storage.
So, if you signed up for DirecTV Now four years ago, your $35-a-month skinny bundle has doubled in price and girth.
It's the latest video move by AT&T, which has given up on its $49 billion purchase of DirecTV in 2015, and is now focused on its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. and the resulting launch of SVOD service HBO Max.
For AT&T, traditional pay TV is now being simplified down to AT&T TV, the IP-based service, launch last year and now largely serving to underpin the telecom's rollouts of fiber internet and fixed 5G services.
AT&T was already in the process of sunsetting its legacy pay TV platform, U-verse. And it’s trying to sell its satellite TV platform, DirecTV.
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