Netflix has now confirmed that its app will be available on AT&T's upcoming DIRECTV set-top box powered by Android TV.
Although this sounds like a given, it is not always the case as there are instances where, for whatever reason, a service prefers not to make its apps available on a device. This is particularly true when the device in question is running more of a customized operating system. For example, Apple recently found this out when Netflix refused to integrate its service with Apple TV+.
While AT&T's solution does run on Android TV it is expected to be a highly customized version which is largely designed to direct users to DIRECTV. In spite of this customization, and the fact some apps might be prohibited from installation by AT&T, the device will come with access to the Google Play Store and it is likely this was enough for Netflix to agree to the partnership. For example, if AT&T had wanted to integrate Netflix at a deeper level instead of letting users access the official Netflix app, Netflix might have had more of an issue.
Netflix made the announcement as part of its second quarter earnings. It did not delve too much deeper into the confirmation and although Netflix did specify the agreement was "to integrate Netflix" this is most likely referring to the fact the Netflix app will come as a pre-installed app on the system – much like it does on most Android TV devices. In fact, if it follows form, then it might actually mean the remote control also comes with a dedicated quick-launch Netflix button.
The actual set-top box is still a few months away at least from release. AT&T has been testing the device in a limited capacity with DIRECTV NOW users although it is expected this will primarily launch as a DIRECTV solution. That's not to say it won't become available to DIRECTV NOW users as well, just the non-NON version is the priority for this box.
Arguably, along with the new WarnerMedia streaming service, the new non-NON version is the DIRECTV priority for AT&T in general.
The reason AT&T appears to be more focused on the non-NOW service is the company plans to launch a new streaming version of the service along with the box. Unlike DIRECTV NOW, the new DIRECTV streaming service will be a more robust solution and will likely be priced at a higher point.
AT&T is particularly keen on this option as it sees the streaming service as a viable replacement for its current DIRECTV customers. By switching them over to the new streaming version, as well as pushing new customers to this version, AT&T will be able to cut costs by a lot as the box will be a self-install and maintained box.
Due to the various savings that are there to be had AT&T has invested heavily in this new service and so far has been keen on letting consumers now this is one to look out for. The company recently made that argument once again when AT&T suggested its new service (and box) would "radically" change what consumers understand TV to be.