DirecTV, the satellite TV provider bought by AT&T in 2015, is launching a streaming service. DirecTV Now will go head-to-head with Sling TV and PlayStation Vue after months of rumours, and it goes live on 11/30/16.
Here’s what you need to know, and what this means for net neutrality.
Cord-cutters are changing the way networks get content to our eyeballs. Fewer people are watching live TV on a traditional cable box. Dish Network‘s Sling TV brought live cable channels to mobile devices and Rokus without a Comcast or Time Warner contract. PlayStation Vue followed recently, and we were off to the races!
DirecTV Now will start at $35 per month for 100+ channels, which is a limited time offer. Right away, this is a much longer channel list than Sling TV’s and PlayStation Vue’s similarly priced plans offer. Expect a price hike to $60 after the introductory period, coupled with lower priced plans with fewer channels.
From AT&T’s announcement:
DIRECTV NOW programming packages are seeded from our existing satellite TV service, putting popular channels together for a great entertainment value:
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)
Fans of HBO® and Cinemax® can add these channels for just $5 each per month in addition to your base programming package.
Hmm. Don’t these plans sound familiar?
Subscribers can watch whichever flavour they choose on most devices. Download an app from Google Play or the Apple AppStore. Watch it on your Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV. AT&T also announced a promotional partnership with LeEco, Lenovo, and others.
Much of this sounds great, but there seem to be some glaring omissions. You can pause live TV, but only a few seconds at a time. DVR is also missing, which would seem to be a given for a company like DirecTV. PlayStation Vue already offers DVR, and Sling has announced support in the future. There will also be complications with certain types of content. For example, you’ll have to figure out a different way to watch NFL games, due to Verizon‘s mobile streaming rights.
What does net neutrality have to do with this anyway? AT&T will give DirecTV Now preferential treatment on their network. AT&T customers who stream this service will not have it affect their data allowance. If another company wanted to have their service zero-rated like this, they would have to come up with big money to make it happen. DirecTV claims to be paying AT&T for this arrangement, but this is like moving money from one bucket to another. It doesn’t make a difference if you own both buckets. This also goes beyond anything T-Mobile has done with Binge On, Music Freedom, and their clever data compression strategies. Magenta doesn’t own any of the services it allows users to stream for free.
Are you geeks planning on signing up for this streaming service and kissing your cable provider good-bye? We want to know how you consume all your nerdy video content!