AT&T’s DirecTV package is going digital.
After weeks of anticipation, the telecom giant officially launched its new DirecTV Now streaming service Monday at an event in New York City.
The new option, which starts at $35 per month (though that price is set to increase after a certain window), will offer subscribers more than 100 live channels available through a digital set-top box or mobile device. It currently supports Apple and Android devices, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and other online platforms with the exception of the Roku, which is expected to be included sometime next year.
The company is also offering access to Fullscreen, where viewers can stream shows on-demand without ads for $6 a month, as well as a free version called FreeVIEW that will be ad-supported.
The DirecTV Now subscription is offered in tiers of bundled channels with premium networks like HBO and Cinemax available for an extra $5 charge.
While the company is currently giving customers top-tier access for what will eventually be its lowest package cost, the rates will shift into the below pricing scheme once that offer expires:
Live a Little – $35 / month (60+ channels)
Just Right – $50 / month (80+ channels)
Go Big – $60 / month (100+ channels)
Gotta Have it – $70 / month (120+ channels)
The bundle is AT&T’s bid to compete not only with rival cable providers but also live online TV upstarts like Sling TV, Playstation Vue and a forthcoming service from Hulu. It comes as young people are increasingly forgoing cable subscriptions in favor of hand-picked bundles of streaming services.
While AT&T’s service is much pricier than those competitors, the telecom seems to be betting that cord-cutters will be willing to fork up a little extra cash for a more complete television package.
AT&T is staking big hopes on the product’s future; the company has said that it believes the service will be its primary TV platform by 2020.
The streaming will also notably be zero-rated (meaning it won’t count against AT&T customers’ data usage), a condition that raises questions about net neutrality and has drawn ire from the Federal Communication Commission.
The FCC’s net neutrality rules entail that service providers treat all web traffic as equal, meaning they can’t favor or obstruct access to certain sites or platforms over others. Earlier this month, the agency said it had “serious concerns” with AT&T’s zero-rating plan, which is already offered on some of the company’s existing services.
The company’s execs responded in a letter last week, claiming that the proposal falls within the bounds of those rules and provides consumers with a net benefit.