AT&T TV Now is no more. New customers can no longer sign up for telecom’s skinny bundle TV service, similar to YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV.
Instead, customers can only sign up for AT&T TV. Simply put: AT&T now has one virtual TV service instead of two. Existing customers will be able to continue accessing the service and shouldn’t experience any disruptions, a spokesperson told Variety.
AT&T has rolled in parts of AT&T TV Now into AT&T TV, including getting rid of the annual contract and not requiring people to own the AT&T TV hardware. Instead, people can use their own compatible devices (Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, etc.) to stream, according to AT&T’s website. There are three different pricing tiers that customers can choose from depending on what channels they want, including add-ons like additional sports and premium channels like HBO. Prices range from $70 to $95, more than double AT&T TV Now’s original starting price.
“We’re bringing more value and simplicity by merging these two streaming services into a single AT&T TV experience,” Vince Torres, senior vice president of marketing at AT&T, told Variety.
AT&T TV Now has been a tumultuous bet, even if you look beyond the fact that AT&T took an already confusing naming scheme (DirecTV and DirecTV Now) and made it even worse (they became AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now, respectively, in 2019). Launched in 2016 at $35 a month for 65 channels, the idea was to hop on the cord-cutting trend. It worked for a minute, but as AT&T faced continuous rising costs, licensing woes, and increased competition from new players, numbers started dropping.
In September 2018, AT&T TV Now controlled 25 percent of internet TV subscriber market share; by September 2020, that dropped to just 8 percent, according to data from analytical firm Antenna. While Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, and Fubo are all seeing some growth, AT&T TV Now has radically shrunk. Throw in rising prices and channel blackouts caused over licensing disagreements, and it’s not difficult to see why AT&T TV Now failed.
AT&T TV Now went from a peak of 1.86 million customers in the third quarter of 2018 to less than 685,000 in September 2020. More often than not, trying to find the balance between the cost to run skinny bundle TV services and keeping monthly subscription prices low results in a path to a profitless future. Even if former AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson thought otherwise.
“[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,” Stephenson said in 2016 ahead of DirecTV Now’s (then AT&T TV Now) launch, according to Variety.