Skip to main content

AT&T will launch yet another streaming service, and we’re utterly confused

Image used with permission by copyright holder

AT&T, which already runs two streaming services, DirecTV Now and Watch TV, and is readying a third — HBO Max — for launch, has now revealed plans to debut a fourth streaming service called AT&T TV. The announcement was made during the company’s second-quarter earnings call with analysts.

Details around the new subscription service remain vague, but it looks like AT&T TV will be some kind of over-the-top (OTT) live TV product that will mimic cable and satellite, yet be much simpler to install and use. It will use an Android TV box, according to a report by CNET, which means customers may be able to install it themselves as they would an Apple TV or Roku device. Content and pricing are unknown, but AT&T plans to begin trialing the service in select areas starting as early as this summer, before rolling it out more widely through the remainder of the year.

What we can’t quite figure out is why AT&T feels there’s a need for yet another streaming service. Our best guess at the moment is that the company sees its traditional DirecTV satellite subscription service flagging at an accelerating rate, yet it doesn’t see either DirecTV Now or Watch TV as viable replacements. If this is accurate, AT&T TV could be its way of dropping the cost of a traditional TV service, while retaining control over the entire experience via its own set-top box. Unlike DirecTV Now and Watch TV, which are app-based and support multiple platforms like Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, and Android, the AT&T TV service could use the Android TV box to house its main interface, while still providing app-based access to its content as a secondary viewing option.

Of course, this is all conjecture. We’re still trying to determine exactly how DirecTV Now, with its embedded HBO subscriptions, will overlap with the upcoming HBO Max service. Both will have HBO content, and both will offer live TV streaming. If AT&T TV has an HBO option — and there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t — that would create a third streaming product with a similar value proposition. Is the TV-watching market in the U.S. so diverse that it can support not only these AT&T options, but also Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Apple TV+, YouTube TV, Hulu, FuboTV, and SlingTV? And those are just the biggest names. Perhaps AT&T reckons that its best to make several bets on the future of TV, leveraging as many of its assets as possible, and see what sticks.

If the streaming infrastructure for AT&T TV already exists thanks to its investments in DirecTV Now and Watch TV, perhaps it’s a bet that won’t break the bank if it fails to catch on.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
Best streaming services for Super Bowl 2022
An image from inside SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

The NFL playoffs are underway, and teams are battling it out to see who will represent the AFC and NFC in Super Bowl 2022 in Los Angeles. So, too, rages the battle for the best streaming service for Super Bowl 2022.

If you're a cord-cutter, you've got more options than you probably realize. Many streaming services are showing Super Bowl 56, so you won't need a cable subscription or an antenna (but if you're considering the latter, we've got you covered, too). And whether you're accessing them directly through your smart TV or a streaming device, a few of the standout services we recommend are FuboTV, Sling TV, and Hulu +Live TV, which are reasonably priced and all have access to NBC, the official broadcasters of the Super Bowl this year. We've got the goods on those and more below.

Read more
The best on-demand streaming services
Amazon Fire TV Streaming Stick 4K

Of the nearly countless on-demand streaming services out there, three stand out: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix. Unfortunately, choosing which one is worthy of your credit card information and time isn't an easy task -- and with a combined subscription fee that's north of $40, subscribing to all three isn't a viable option for most.

Even if you're cutting the cord, the trio -- merged with a channel-specific service such as CBS All Access or HBO and a live TV platform such as Sling TV -- could add up to the same monthly cost as your traditional cable or satellite. So much for those cord-cutting savings, huh? That's why it's important to understand what you need from an on-demand streaming service. So, to help you find the best on-demand streamer for you, we've put together this comprehensive comparison guide.
Amazon offers two main versions of its Prime subscription, either $119 annually or $13 per month (or $59 annually when you sign up with a valid student email address). Both versions net you the same perks, including two-day shipping -- or free one-day shipping in some cases -- discounted prices on select items, cloud storage, and, most importantly for our purposes, on-demand video (and music) streaming. The best part is that 4K Ultra HD content with HDR comes standard at no extra cost. Plus, you can share accounts with friends and family, so everyone can get in on the deals.
Netflix's various subscription tiers currently range from $9 to $18 depending on your desired video quality -- SD resolution is just $9 per month, but you can only stream on one device at a time. Moving up to HD will cost you $14 per month for two streams while moving up to 4K Ultra HD will now cost you $18 per month for four streams at a time. The prices will also go up should you add the DVD/Blu-ray rental service.
Hulu currently starts at just $7 for the ad-based service or $13 for the ad-free option (which we still highly recommend, even at nearly double the cost). Hulu's options don't stop there as it also offers a streaming live-TV package called Hulu+Live TV for $65 (increasing to $70 per month as of December 21, 2021), which is similar to Sling TV and YouTube TV. The subscription includes more than 75-plus channels on top of the service's regular on-demand library, and there are also add-on features at an additional fee, including a $6 fee to get rid of most ads altogether. You'll also get better savings with Hulu if you're a Disney+ and ESPN+ subscriber, as the illustrious Disney Bundle saves you $6 on the streaming trio.
Especially for those who want to stream 4K at the lowest possible price, Amazon is the cheapest bet and has stated that the company won't raise prices for 4K streaming. The sheer number of extra features and benefits included in Amazon Prime gives it an advantage over its competitors, as well. Throw in Amazon's student discount, and this is an easy win.
Winner: Amazon

Read more
Tons of T-Mobile subscribers just got a free year of Apple TV+
Jason Sudeikis as the title character in Ted Lasso on Apple TV+.

If you're a T-Mobile subscriber on one of the company's Magenta or Magenta Max unlimited data plans, you're going to be getting access to Apple TV+ for free, for a whole year, starting August 25. Unlike some other bonus offers, this one isn't just being used as a way to lure new subscribers to T-Mobile (though clearly, it could do that as well).

T-Mobile customers on the company's Magenta 55+, Magenta Military, Magenta First Responders, Sprint Unlimited Plus, Sprint Premium, and T-Mobile for Small Business Customers plans all get in on the free Apple TV+ action. Better yet, it doesn't matter if you're currently on a free trial for Apple TV+ or if you're already paying for the streaming video service. Those in the midst of a free trial will see their trial period extended by 12 months, while paid plans will be put on a payment holiday for the duration of the free year.

Read more