AT&T discontinues offline viewing on its U-verse TV Everywhere service

AT&T (NYSE: T) no longer offers its U-verse TV Everywhere customers the ability to download content to their mobile device for offline viewing. Instead, users must stream all their TV Everywhere content over an Internet connection.

The carrier made the change to its service in the past few months, said Quickplay's Michael Couture. Quickplay manages AT&T's TV Everywhere services on third-party devices including iPhones, Android phones and Xboxes.

Couture, Quickplay's SVP of product management, explained that AT&T stopped offering the option because it is difficult and expensive for AT&T to obtain the rights from content owners to offer offline viewing. Prior to the change, he said, AT&T only offered a few pieces of content that were available for offline viewing. He also noted that the move could net AT&T more data revenues from those customers who opt to stream their TV Everywhere content over AT&T's wireless network.

AT&T's TV Everywhere services are available through the carrier's U-verse web site and through a number of apps, including those for iOS and Android phones and tablets.

Interestingly, DirecTV allows offline viewing for the TV shows that its TV Everywhere users record with their GenieGO DVR. "You don't even need an Internet connection when you want to watch," DirecTV notes on its site. On its own site, AT&T advises that its U-verse TVE app "requires qualifying device and data connection."

Offline viewing capabilities fell into the spotlight recently after Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) became the first major SVOD operator to announce the ability to download some content for offline viewing on some of the programs available through its Prime video service.

However, Netflix's (NASDAQ: NFLX) Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt recently spoke out against offline viewing, noting that Netflix does not offer the option because it presents too much complexity to users. "It's not going to be instant, you have to have the right storage on your device, you have to manage it, and I'm just not sure people are actually that compelled to do that, and that it's worth providing that level of complexity," Hunt recently told Gizmodo UK.

For its part, Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) Xfinity to Go app has allowed downloads for a limited number of programs for several years.

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