AT&T/DirecTV becomes last top pay-TV operator to launch IP service

AT&T (NYSE: T) became the last major pay-TV operator to tout — or test — a virtual video delivery system, announcing that three IP-only DirecTV tiers will debut later this year.

AT&T wasn't clear on pricing, but said that starting in the fourth quarter of this year, DirecTV will offer three "affordable" programming packages that will be viewable on tablets, smartphones and OTT devices and will require no contracts, satellite dishes or set-tops.

"These new video subscription models reflect the flexible content choices, viewing options and simple, transparent pricing that consumers want. AT&T intends to be the first company to deliver that flexibility, along with an effortless customer experience," said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group. "These offers will provide a broad range of customers with greater freedom and choice to watch, binge and even buy premium content, regardless of how and where they enjoy their entertainment.

"We are looking at these offerings differently than others in the market. We often hear from customers who want more content from streaming services, or who can't get or can't afford a traditional pay-TV service," Stankey said. "We intend to offer customers a quality pay-TV experience, including top channels, sports and more, with increased value and flexibility of pure online streaming and no need for home installation."

The new tiers will include DirecTV Now, which AT&T said will include "much of what is available" on the core DirecTV satellite service today.

DirecTV Mobile, meanwhile, will be a lower priced programming package available for smartphones, all carriers included. And DirecTV Preview will be a free, ad-supported service with limited content options.

In a statement, AT&T framed the product introductions as proof that a new FCC proposal to overhaul regulation of pay-TV set-tops is obsolete.

"This confirms that the FCC's proposed new rules on set-top boxes are wholly unnecessary, backward looking and would impose significant costs with no corresponding benefits," the company said in a statement. "Our new services will demonstrate that we and the market generally are moving beyond set-top boxes, and providing consumers more choices than ever to watch what they want, when they want and on the device of their choosing anywhere they happen to be."

"Rather than imposing a government technology mandate that will never keep pace with the vibrantly competitive video marketplace, the Commission should allow competition to work."

For more:

- read this AT&T press release
- read this Multichannel News story

Related links:

AT&T announces three DirecTV-branded video services for all devices, will launch in Q4
AT&T launches streaming-only DirecTV services, no installation required
AT&T's new DirecTV streaming service may need to fight for OTT territory