Savvy consumers have been able to cut the cord and get their TV fix from the internet for some time now, using methods both frowned upon and legitimate, both paid and free, and both time-tested and visionary. Some simply watch whatever’s on the big streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, some seek out their favorite shows and some deal directly with the networks for content they’d normally get with a TV subscription. Others are getting into the new wave known as web TV, where a telecommunications provider, normal TV provider or other party sells you a subscription not unlike traditional cable, but with a majority of the fat cut and delivered over the web, either via a site or via an app.
According to an announcement made on Tuesday, AT&T will be jumping into the Web TV game with three different options for subscribers, independent of AT&T’s other services. These services won’t require any of AT&T or DIRECTV’s other services, but do have DIRECTV branding. The first and, in some ways, most traditional option being offered is DIRECTV Preview. This free option is offered to anybody with an internet connection and, as the name implies, is meant as a preview of sorts for the paid services. It will be ad-supported and feature a small selection of programming from some partner networks and AT&T’s AUDIENCE network. The flagship option here, for which a price has not yet been announced, is known as DIRECTV Now. This one is more in line with other Web TV services; for a fee, you get access to a smattering of traditional and made-for-web programming, along with optional premium ad-ons. The press release did not say whether or not this option will have ads. The third option is mobile-only, known as DIRECTV Mobile, and will cater to those who are looking to enjoy “premium video and made-for-digital content” straight from their mobile device. Pricing and ad content for this plan, like the Now plan, was not announced.
AT&T announced that these options will be available to consumers at some point in the fourth quarter of this year. John Stankey, the CEO of AT&T’s entertainment arm, said that “These new video subscription models reflect the flexible content choices, viewing options and simple, transparent pricing that consumers want…” Pricing, as stated above, was not announced, but the press release implied that it will be more affordable than a typical TV subscription. This is a natural assumption to make, since Web TV does not require any special equipment. With further details left for a later date, only time will tell if AT&T can deliver on the flexibility and transparent pricing being promised.