AT&T is planning to officially launch its new streaming version of the full DirecTV product in the third quarter of 2019 and John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications, lavished some high praise upon it.
Donovan, speaking today at a Credit Suisse investor conference, called it the consumer product he’s most excited about since the iPhone.
“It radically reshapes what your concept of television is. We think we’re going to really be disruptive in the market on features and capabilities. But we need to evolve our product,” Donovan said.
AT&T has been referring to the new streaming DirecTV product as a “thin client.” The service will use an IP connection instead of a satellite dish and will operate on a proprietary Android TV set-top box that AT&T is currently testing.
Earlier this year AT&T added streaming channel packages that mostly align with DirecTV’s offering in terms of lineups and pricing.
Part of the appeal of a streaming DirecTV product is that it will lower customer acquisition costs for AT&T by removing the need for a service visit to install a satellite and set up the TV service. Donovan said this product will also help establish connections with customers who can’t get satellite service due to issues with line of sight. He said approximately 20% of U.S. households can't get satellite service. He said that in cases where DirecTV discovers it can’t install service for interested customers, the company essentially wasted the money it spent on marketing and installation.
Donovan said that the new product will add to DirecTV’s addressable market. He said the company currently has a database of customers who have called trying to get DirecTV satellite service and weren’t able to for one reason or another.
“We can now call them back up and say ‘We’ve got a great opportunity for you,’” Donovan said.