Following rivals, AT&T says DirecTV won't need a dish or box

March 1, 2016 by Tali Arbel

Like other cable and satellite companies, AT&T is trying to win new customers by making it a little easier to sign up for and watch TV.

It said Tuesday that DirecTV packages that run on apps and don't need a dish or TV set-top box are coming in the fourth quarter. You don't have to be an AT&T phone customer to sign up.

But it's hard to gauge how appealing these deals will be. AT&T, which bought DirecTV last year, isn't providing details about prices, which channels or will be available, or whether there will be any content blackouts on mobile devices or computers when you step outside your house.

Other Internet TV efforts haven't been successful. While an Apple TV streaming service hasn't gotten off the ground, having reportedly hit roadblocks in negotiations with channels, AT&T has a "number of programmers on board and we're continuing discussions with others," said AT&T executive Tony Goncalves, adding that it will be a "programmer-friendly approach" because it doesn't limit the video that consumers can get to specific channels.

Dish Network's Sling TV, on the other hand, has a base price of $20 a month for 23 channels and has focused on that price point.

Asked if ESPN channels were going to be included in the new AT&T packages, spokeswoman Amy Phillips said ESPN was "having productive conversations, but we have nothing to announce at this time." Messages left with CBS, AMC and NBCUniversal were not immediately returned.

The industry shift to ditch equipment that adds to the cost of TV service comes as a growing number of people cancel their traditional TV subscriptions. Young people are considered especially unlikely to pay for a bundle.

Over the past year, rival cable and satellite companies have introduced TV-watching apps aimed at millennials. Dish Network's Sling TV has channels that work whether you're in the house or not, but some programs have been blacked out. Offerings from companies have rights issues that make some channels unavailable when you leave your house and for now are available only in a few regions. Comcast's Stream also doesn't work on TV.

Competition is increasing as phone companies want to be video hubs, too. T-Mobile lets you watch video from dozens of providers, including HBO Now, Netflix and Hulu, without using up data on your plan. Verizon exempts its own video app, which has some full-length TV episodes.

Dallas-based AT&T Inc. said it is planning packages that have "much of what is available from DirecTV today" as well as a more limited service that only works on phones and a free offering with ads.

Explore further: TV service DishWorld changes name to Sling International

Related Stories

The differences between the new online cable bundles

January 12, 2016

Traditional cable providers are launching TV packages that don't require cable boxes—good for you because you save on monthly equipment fees and don't need a technician to come install it for you.

Review: Don't expect Apple to transform television

December 16, 2015

Since the turn of the century, Apple has shaken up both the music and wireless industries. But if you're hoping it will have the same revolutionary effect on the television industry, you may want to adjust your expectations.

Recommended for you

A not-quite-random walk demystifies the algorithm

December 15, 2017

The algorithm is having a cultural moment. Originally a math and computer science term, algorithms are now used to account for everything from military drone strikes and financial market forecasts to Google search results.

US faces moment of truth on 'net neutrality'

December 14, 2017

The acrimonious battle over "net neutrality" in America comes to a head Thursday with a US agency set to vote to roll back rules enacted two years earlier aimed at preventing a "two-speed" internet.

FCC votes along party lines to end 'net neutrality' (Update)

December 14, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules Thursday, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit ...

The wet road to fast and stable batteries

December 14, 2017

An international team of scientists—including several researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory—has discovered an anode battery material with superfast charging and stable operation ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.