Telecom giant AT&T will charge $35 a month for its forthcoming DirecTV Now streaming service, CEO Randall Stephenson revealed at a conference Tuesday.
DirecTV Now, which is one of three streaming services that will launch in the fourth quarter, is the most comprehensive streaming service to come from the company, designed to offer a range of content packages, including much of what is available from DirecTV today, available streamed via a wired or wireless internet connection on-demand along with live programming from many networks, plus premium add-on options.
AT&T had already said that the service plans to launch with more than 100 channels, making it closer to the DirecTV satellite TV service than a 25-channel skinny bundle. People at AT&T and working with the company say the telecom giant’s message has been that the appeal of skinny bundles is limited, something content company CEOs also have been saying.
“This isn’t the junk nobody wants. This is 100 premium channels … the premium content you know and love to watch,” Stephenson said Tuesday.
“We think this is big. This is a game changer,” he said. “This is a way to drive prices down in the marketplace.”
Analysts had been expecting the service to cost around $40 a month. It’s $35 price point is slightly higher than that of Dish’s Sling TV, which offers around 20 channels, including AMC, Disney Channel, ESPN, History and TNT, for $20 a month and add-on packages for an additional $5 each.
Stephenson appeared onstage at the WSJ.D Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Tuesday alongside Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes in a discussion about AT&T’s recent $85 billion deal to acquire Time Warner.
AT&T has included rights to offer various networks in its recent slew of carriage deal renewals, which have covered all AT&T Entertainment Group platforms and delivery methods, even though it is only expected to disclose which specific networks will be included in what streaming service packages. Its deals have come with the likes of Walt Disney, Time Warner’s Turner and HBO, NBCUniversal, Viacom, AMC Networks, and Discovery Communications.
The last two major content holdouts were CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox.
In addition to the broad-based DirecTV Now, the company’s streaming services will include what had been scheduled to be called DirecTV Mobile, for people who want to watch premium video and made-for-digital content on a smartphone, as well as the free, advertising-supported DirecTV Freeview, which will showcase content from AT&T’s Audience Network, other networks and millennial-focused video from Otter Media, AT&T’s joint venture with Peter Chernin’s The Chernin Group.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson last year mentioned that the company was looking to target the 20 million-plus U.S. homes without pay TV subscriptions. That means it is going after people who haven’t had access to pay TV, have cut or want to cut the cord, or have no interest in signing up for linear pay TV.