In an effort to appeal to cord cutters, AT&T will launch three new services that allow users to stream DirecTV online without an annual contract, satellite dish, or set-top box. The plans—called DirecTV Now, DirecTV Mobile, and DirecTV Preview—will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.
AT&T became the world’s largest pay TV company last year when it acquired DirecTV for $48.5 billion. It already allows current DirecTV subscribers to access programs online, but the three new services may help it attract new customers who don’t want to bother installing and paying for cable because they already stream most of their movies and TV shows through platforms like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu.
While it’s difficult to count exactly how many people have started ditching pay TV services for over-the-top streaming media, a study by Digitalsmiths (a TiVo subsidiary) found that in 2014, 8.2 percent of former pay TV subscribers they surveyed had gotten rid of their pay TV subscriptions, with many citing increasing fees for cable and satellite services as their main motivation.
AT&T hasn’t revealed how much its DirecTV streaming plans will cost or if they will be zero-rated so people on AT&T Internet plans with data caps can watch unlimited video. One option, DirecTV Preview, is free and will be supported by ads, with a limited sampling of DirecTV programming.
In its announcement, AT&T said that more than 60 percent of its network traffic is video and that it already delivers more than 60 million streams and downloads to its TV customers every month. The WSJ reports, however, that AT&T lost a net 26,000 video customers last quarter as it struggled to convert customers from its U-Verse TV Service to DirecTV after the merger.