If you’ve been holding out for AT&T’s flagship streaming-only television service to launch before ditching your current cable provider, your wait is almost up. Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, told CNBC on Monday that DirecTV Now will launch as soon as next month.
Stephenson also claimed that DirecTV Now will be priced “radically lower” than that of the competition—and though they went unnamed, assume he’s talking about the likes of Sling and PlayStation Vue—though he didn’t get into specifics. Not only is pricing unknown at this time, but channel offerings and if there will be things like tier packages are still a mystery. In fact, what little is known at this point of DirecTV Now is the platform’s name, and the fact that it will be online-only.
The news comes on the first day of business following AT&T’s announcement of a planned $85 billion buyout of Time Warner—owners of both HBO & Showtime, two channels previously committed to the DirecTV Now lineup. Time Warner also happens to own considerable other media properties, lending more credence to AT&T’s desire to bring the company under its umbrella (so long as federal regulators approve, that is). TBS, TNT, and the original 24-hour news network, CNN all would become AT&T properties under the buyout.
With or without regulatory approval of the Time Warner acquisition (which wouldn’t close until the end of 2017 at the earliest), DirecTV Now will be an interesting test—the first of its kind for a major cable provider. If DirecTV can offer as competitive of a pricing option as Stephenson claims, and the channel packages live up to consumer expectations, expect other providers to follow suit sometime in the near future.