AT&T is finally ready to launch its DirecTV Now streaming TV service to entice cord cutters into paying for television channels. The service launches on Wednesday, November 30th, and early subscribers can get a free Apple TV, too.
DirecTV Now comes in four package offerings: Live a Little with over 60 channels, Just Right with more than 80 channels, Go Big with over 100 channels, and Gotta Have it with more than 120 channels. The packages are priced at US$35, $50, $60, and $70 a month, respectively.
HBO and Cinemax cost an extra $5 a month each, and Showtime isn’t on board yet. The NFL is MIA, as is CBS, although AT&T says it’s working on deals now.
AT&T is hoping to catch the eye of cord cutters by offering the $60 Go Big package for $35, and by including a free Apple TV for anyone paying for three months up front. The Apple TV offer applies to all the packages, including the base-level Go Big bundle.
According to AT&T, the special $35 discount price for the Go Big package is good for life. The company said the only way the $35 monthly price could go up is if there are “future reasonable programming price increases applicable to all packages.” The implication being if you sign up for the $35 deal now you won’t get hit with a bait and switch price increase after a couple months.
DirecTV Now supports Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, along with Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire Stick, and desktop web browsers. Android devices are supported, too, and Chromecast support is coming next year.
What you don’t get is 4K streaming and DVR recording, although AT&T says cloud-based DVR support is on the way. DirecTV Now is limited to streaming to two devices at the same time, although you can enable it on more.
AT&T made it clear it wants cord cutters saying,
This is rules-free TV for anyone in the U.S. who wants to stream shows and movies anytime, anywhere. For the more than 20 million U.S. households who have dropped cable or are flirting with cutting the cord, we’re now delivering video over a technology platform that will have multiple product capabilities.
Cord cutters, or content viewers who aren’t paying for a cable or satellite subscription any more, are a small but growing market. Courting those people now with packages catering to viewers who prefer to watch shows on their own terms—meaning when and where they want on the devices they choose—is a smart move because drawing them in later when even more streaming options are available will be more difficult.
AT&T isn’t counting on a lifetime-ish discount monthly price and free Apple TV to draw in the customers. The company also said DirecTV Now customers who also use the company’s wireless data services won’t have to worry about streaming content counting against their monthly data caps, much like T-Mobile’s Binge-On streaming video deal.
DirecTV Now may have another draw: Paying in advance for three months gets you a free Apple TV, which is cheaper than buying one new from Apple. Even if you cancel after those three months are up, you still have a brand new Apple TV at a nice discount.