The branding relationship between AT&T and DIRECTV has been a confusing mess over the last couple of years, but we may finally see some clarity in the near future.
After months of speculation, it has just been announced that DIRECTV will become a standalone video business that will bring many of the AT&T branded streaming products along with it.
The flagship live TV streaming service for AT&T, currently called AT&T TV, will be rebranded as DIRECTV STREAM.
What Is DIRECTV STREAM and When Will It Be Live?
DIRECTV STREAM is a new live TV streaming service brand that will enter the market by the end of August.
This branding will effectively replace the AT&T TV product over the coming months, but current subscribers should not expect their content (or their billing) to change in the short term.
“We expect no changes for current AT&T TV subscribers other than the logo on their screens, and customers don’t need to take any action as a result of the transaction.”
“It’s important to note that as a part of the deal, AT&T satellite, streaming or IP video customers will automatically keep their video service, any bundled wireless, internet or HBO Max services, and associated discounts with no action needed.”
– DIRECTV STREAM News Release
AT&T TV will join AT&T Now and DIRECTV Now as video streaming brand names and concepts that have been cast aside in recent years.
DIRECTV will continue to offer its traditional satellite TV product, which has been an industry leader since the 1990s. At least for the time being, this will continue to be a separate product from DIRECTTV STREAM.
Why Are AT&T and DIRECTV Doing This?
Earlier this year, AT&T indicated that it was considering rolling most of its video streaming content assets into a separate company. This rebranding is part of the execution of that corporate restructure.
And for former DIRECTV customers who were disappointed with the direction of the streaming product after the company was acquired by AT&T, this could be a signal that we’re going to see a return to the business practices that made DIRECTV popular as a satellite service.
“This is a watershed moment for DIRECTV as we return to a singular focus on providing a stellar video experience,” said Bill Morrow, CEO, DIRECTV via the news release. “Building on our recent momentum, we are well-positioned to bring unparalleled choice and value to all of our customers under one iconic brand, whether they beam it or stream it.”
While AT&T customers can expect that existing pricing will be honored for the near future, this change in corporate leadership and direction does make one wonder what else could be on the horizon.
Will there be changes to the bundling practices that include things like AT&T’s internet services and HBO Max? What about pricing changes and package simplifications? Those are items to monitor in the coming months.
How Does This Affect HBO Max?
HBO Max is one major exception to this announcement of AT&T rolling video streaming assets into the separate company DIRECTV branding.
For the time being, HBO Max will stay under the AT&T umbrella of products.
As indicated earlier, AT&T TV customers who have a bundle that includes an HBO Max subscription will continue to enjoy that service uninterrupted through this branding change.
The popular video streaming service offers access to the full library of HBO shows, is the exclusive streaming home of TV hits such as Friends and The Big Bang Theory and serves as the digital launch pad for new Warner Bros. movies.
What AT&T TV Offers Right Now
While much of this information is subject to change within just a few weeks, here’s a quick reminder of what DIRECTV is inheriting in the AT&T TV streaming products.
AT&T TV is positioned as one of the most expensive live TV streaming services on the market with a base price of $70 per month.
At the $85 per month level, the AT&T Choice Package does provide a competitive advantage over more popular services like YouTube TV, Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV in that it carries all of the major regional sports networks.
This allows fans of NBA, NHL and MLB teams to watch the games of their local teams, which is a golden commodity after millions of fans recently found they’re no longer able to do that on other streaming services due to contract disputes.
It remains to be seen if DIRECTV Stream plans to lower the pricing on some of these products. If it does, you could see many unhappy streaming sports fans migrate there as a way to see channels like Bally Sports South.
I’d recommend holding off on signing up for the AT&T TV product as a new customer at this point. You’ll first want to see what the new product is going to look like in the coming weeks.
For the sake of everyone involved, let’s hope that this DIRECTV video streaming spinoff from AT&T is a step towards stability in branding and product offering.
DIRECTV is one of the premier brand names in satellite television, and moving away from AT&T could be their chance to both reclaim their reputation for customer service and differentiate themselves as a real live TV streaming option.
As soon as the DIRECTV STREAM product goes live, you can expect Team Clark to give it a test drive and provide you with a thorough review.
Are you excited about the changes ahead for AT&T TV? Let us know in the comments below.
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