AT&T to offer streaming DirecTV packages

Consumers looking to get pay TV service over the Internet will soon have another choice.

AT&T announced Tuesday that starting in the fourth quarter this year it will be offering DirecTV service packages that users will be able to access online, without needing a satellite dish or a set-top box. The company plans to offer a variety of packages, including one that will be targeted at smartphone users and an advertising-supported one that will be offered for free to consumers.

The company is targeting the packages at the growing number of consumers who have either cancelled their pay TV service or never signed up for one.

“We often hear from customers who want more content from streaming services, or who can’t get or can’t afford a traditional pay-TV service,” said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T’s Entertainment Group. “We intend to offer customers a quality pay-TV experience, including top channels, sports and more, with increased value and flexibility of pure online streaming and no need for home installation.”

AT&T, which completed its acquisition of DirecTV last year, is the latest company to develop a bundled online pay TV offering. Last year, Dish, DirecTV’s chief rival, launched Sling TV, a low-cost Internet-delivered pay TV service. Sony also launched PlayStation Vue, which is only available in a handful of markets and can only be viewed through a PlayStation 3 or 4 game console. Meanwhile, Apple has reportedly been trying to cobble together its own pay TV service for its Apple TV device, but has yet to unveil it.

As is the case with Sling TV, the new online DirecTV offerings won’t require consumers to sign long-term contracts. AT&T said the new packages will be available to all consumers, regardless of their broadband or wireless provider. It also plans to make the service available via “virtually any” device, including smartphones, tablets, PCs, smart TVs and digital streaming gadgets.

AT&T didn’t announce the price of its various packages or list the specific ones it will offer. Dish charges a base price of $20 month for Sling TV, and charges extra for additional sets of channels. Sony charges a base price of $40 a month for Vue.

Photo: Screen capture of DirecTV’s iPad app. 


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