AT&T - An Overview of their TV, Internet and Phone Services

KEY FACTS
Founded: 1983
Corporate Site(s): www.att.com
# Subscribers: >200 million
Key partner(s): IBM, Microsoft

The largest telecommunication company in the world, AT&T has brands in just about every category in the communication and media space. Previously known as Southwestern Bell (before the antitrust suit), they still have a dominant position in the telephone market and more recently made some major acquisitions by snapping up DIRECTV and WarnerMedia.

DIRECTV Channel Lineup
View and compare all the DTV channels and packages in our interactive table.

With respect to DIRECTV, they purchased it for over 5 billion in 2015 and immediately made some sweeping changes to the service. Starting with an overhaul of DIRECTV Now and its programming lineup to various content partnership changes on DIRECTV (some for the better, others the worse), AT&T has made every effort to fit the DIRECTV brand into its ecosphere. And while it's worked in some facets, overall, there have been a fair number of strategic/branding issues along the way. The latest rumor is AT&T is looking to unload DIRECTV altogether with the likeliest suitor being its biggest rival, DISH. If they do end up merging, customers are likely to benefit from the combination of technology, programming breadth and bargaining power (lower costs per channel, etc). Stay tuned for how this all shakes down.

Either way, it's pretty clear that AT&T is looking to revamp their TV service. They've already launched their new flagship TV product, AT&T TV - a streaming service with a DVR set top box and 2 year contract, it's more of a traditional TV product. All its plans mirror DIRECTV's, even using the same names and lineups. And why not, they still own DIRECTV and it's an easy switch over. AT&T TV is still in beta and set for a nationwide rollout in late 2019.

Advantages

  • Multiple cost-saving bundling opportunities (incl. with mobile)
  • Industry-leading internet, phone and TV geographic coverage
  • Solid security against phishing and other account hacks

Disadvantages

  • Difficut-to-reach customer service (but getting better)
  • Constant change in TV brands/service, though now stabilizing
  • Uncertainty with future DIRECTV ownership

Latest AT&T News

They also recently re-branded the DIRECTV Now service into AT&T TV Now. It's still the same over-the-top, month-to-month service, only now it's only accessible via the above AT&T TV's app (yep, both services share the same app but deliver different content - confused yet?). They're both actually still pretty good values, so once you get used to the name change, it's a worthwhile switch.

Lastly, AT&T will also be entering the original content creation and streaming world, like Netflix, via a new App and service called HBO max. Having recently acquired Warnermedia and thus HBO and Cinemax, they've decided to extend HBO's branding get power and go. head on with Netflix, hulu, etc. Likely priced around $10/mo, HBO Max will be hoping for a series of hits like Game of thrones and others to really drive growth. HBO Max will likely launch in late 2019. And, speaking of HBO (the movie channels not the streaming service), AT&T is already using it as a marketing chip vs the competition; eg, HBO is no longer available with DISH and don't expect that to change anytime soon.

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