AT&T Sets DirecTV Now Launch Event for Nov. 28

Todd Spangler
Variety

AT&T announced that it is holding a DirecTV Now launch event Monday, Nov. 28, in New York City, where it will unveil more details about the new internet-delivered TV service that promises to shake up the industry with an aggressive pricing strategy.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson last month announced a $35 starting price point for DirecTV Now, and said the over-the-top bundle will include more than 100 channels. Premium channels including HBO and Starz also will be available.

While AT&T doesn’t position DirecTV Now as a “skinny bundle” — especially compared with Dish Network’s lower-priced Sling TV, which starts with about 30 channels — the service is priced considerably lower than traditional pay-TV packages and will come with certain restrictions (like providing only one stream per account).

The telco has held its cards close to the vest ahead of DirecTV Now’s official launch. But according to documents viewed by Variety, AT&T is planning to offer various sign-up incentives to recruit subscribers. Customers who commit to three months of the service will get a free Apple TV (worth $150), while those who pay for one month will receive an Amazon Fire TV Stick ($35).

The DirecTV Now documents also revealed that many networks will support a 72-hour “catch-up window” to let users watch shows from the past three days; ESPN is among the networks excluded from the replay feature but customers can log in to WatchESPN to view select past programming. DirecTV Now also will include a video-on-demand library of up to 14,000 titles. (AT&T has declined to comment.)

“If you can bring a compelling price point and a compelling content package and some innovation with it,” Stephenson told analysts on AT&T’s third-quarter 2016 earnings call, “we are absolutely convinced that this is going to be very, very attractive for a large group of customers who really aren’t even in the market today.”

Sony’s PlayStation Vue is also a player in the over-the-top pay-TV segment, while Hulu plans to debut a live TV service in early 2017 and Google’s YouTube is assembling a service it is calling YouTube Unplugged.

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