Where's your cable now?
AT&T and DirecTV Monday announced DirecTV Now, a new over-the-internet TV service that offers up to 120 live streaming channels for people who are morally opposed to (or financially indisposed to) subscribing to cable.
Like Dish Network's Sling TV and Sony's PlayStation Vue TV app services, DirecTV Now is cheaper than most cable subscriptions (starting at $35/month) and doesn't require an installation visit -- you only need wifi and a smart TV/tablet/smartphone to watch.
Unveiling DirecTV Now, at AT&T's Monday announcement event.
More channels for cord cutters
DirecTV Now launches November 30, and with the availability of local stations in "select markets," its top package ($70/month) includes 120+ live streaming channels -- more than any cable TV-replacement app yet. Vue's premium package ($55/month) is around 90 channels, and Sling TV's largest offering ($40/month) is about 50 channels.
Sling TV's 30-channel package (ESPN, AMC, CNN and others) is still the cheapest entry into the live-TV-over-app experience, at $20.
DirecTV Now will launch Nov. 30 with a special price for its "GO BIG" channel package -- $35 instead of the normal $60.
AT&T is offering HBO on DirecTV Now at only $5 a month, $10 cheaper than Sling TV or PlayStation Vue.
How/where to watch
DirecTV Now will not launch with an app for the popular Roku smart TV platform, though it's coming in 2017, AT&T said. Apps for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android, iOS, compatibility with Chromecast, and the ability to watch online at a PC are all planned for the service's start.
Sling and Vue today can be watched on all the platforms listed above (including Roku) -- while Vue can also stream on PlayStation, and Sling can stream on Xbox.
DirecTV Now on Apple TV.
DirecTV Now limits a subscription to stream two devices at once.
Sling's cheapest package limits to only one stream at a time, with its larger packages (without ABC/Disney channels) allowing three streams at once. PlayStation Vue allows five devices under the same subscription to stream at the same time.
Free streaming on AT&T mobile
Hunker down, protectors of net neutrality, because alongside AT&T's announcement of DirecTV Now was the tidbit that the service, and its potential gigs of monthly video streaming data, will be excluded from counting against monthly data caps for smartphones/tablets on the AT&T mobile network. In other words, for AT&T mobile customers, DirecTV Now will roll out with a built-in (perhaps unfair) advantage over Sling and Vue.
Of course, in similar fashion, T-Mobile offers Binge-On 4G data cap immunity for Sling and Vue.
The future of TV service
Of course, with the FCC having proposed a ban on cable box requirements for cable TV services, DirecTV Now's streaming TV app service, with its cable TV-quality selection of channels delivered through an app, feels more like a natural step toward the direction of what TV service will soon be like than a disruptive offshoot option to today's standard cable TV.
In other words: It's looking more and more like we'll all be cord cutters soon -- don't you think?
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