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AT&T is renaming its streaming video service yet again

AT&T is going to rename its streaming video services, which include AT&T TV, AT&T TV Now, and AT&T Watch TV, to “DirecTV Stream” on August 26, according to The Verge. Why the name change? It appears to be part of an effort to establish a new brand for the company’s video properties, which were formally spun off into a new company earlier in August.

And while that might be a perfectly legitimate reason to change the service’s name, it’s enough to make our heads spin. Since 2019, AT&T has engaged in a confusing set of product launches and rebranding efforts that have used both AT&T and DirecTV names. The company’s original effort at a cable TV alternative streaming service was called DirecTV Now. You could use it with your existing broadband internet connection and it didn’t require a set-top box. This service was rebranded as AT&T TV Now, but ended up eventually being absorbed by AT&T TV, a service that still delivered live TV content over the internet, but required a dedicated Android TV set-top box, making it the logical successor to AT&T’s U-verse TV service. All the while, the company kept alive its AT&T Watch TV service, which is a very lightweight package of more than 35 live TV channels.

Those new names and services made it look as though AT&T had decided to circle the wagons around the AT&T brand for internet-delivered video. But the company still owned DirecTV, its traditional satellite TV service. It now looks like a decision was made to leverage that brand for the video services spinoff, thereby finally eliminating any confusion around which corporate entity is responsible for bringing content into your home. Starting August 26, if you get TV via satellite, it’s DirecTV, and if you get it via the internet (with or without a dedicated set-top box), it will be DirecTV Stream.

It’s too early to say if the new company will adjust any of its packages or pricing to be more competitive, but there’s certainly no lack of choices for folks who want to watch live TV without cable or satellite. YouTube TV, FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, and Sling TV are just four of the nationally available live TV streaming services you can pick. At the same time, Locast is becoming an increasingly attractive option for people who just want an easy way to watch their local over-the-air (OTA) channels without needing to buy, install, and tweak an over-the-air (OTA) antenna or buy an OTA receiver.

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Simon Cohen
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