AT&T is apparently moving ahead with consumer trials for its streaming video set-top box due to be released in 2019.
According to The Verge, DirecTV Now has begun sending out emails to some subscribers and offering them the chance to take part in a beta test of the box. The trials are reportedly set to last about six months.
The timing seemingly aligns with comments AT&T management made about the device during the company’s most recent earnings call. AT&T said it had begun beta testing its new proprietary streaming device with plans to roll out trials in the first half of 2019.
“This will be a more measured rollout and, like our introduction of WatchTV, we expect this service to be EBITDA positive and over time it should lower our acquisition cost for our premium video service,” AT&T CFO John Stephens said during the call.
On Wednesday, Stephens spoke the Morgan Stanley European Technology, Media and Telecom Conference and described the streaming device as a way to reduce subscriber acquisition costs.
“It’s a device that allows us to, instead of rolling a truck to the home, we roll a UPS or FedEx truck to the home and deliver a self-install box. This allows the customer to use their own broadband. We certainly hope it’s our own fiber but it could be on anybody’s broadband. And they get the full-service premium package that we would normally deliver off satellite or over our IP-based U-verse service,” Stephens said.
“The key is, as we roll that out to full production or full availability to our customers, you will see subscriber acquisition costs come down significantly because it’s the cost of that box as opposed to the cost of an employee rolling a truck, climbing the roof and installing the satellite.”
The box, unearthed at the FCC by Variety last year, is a wireless 4K OTT client based on Google’s Android TV. It has a voice remote along with Ethernet, digital audio, HDMI and USB ports. It’s roughly the size of an Apple TV, Fire TV or a Roku.