It would seem like a no-brainer for AT&T to encourage smart TV manufacturers to include the DIRECTV NOW app in their offerings. And now, someone’s done it.
Several media outlets, including CordCutters News have reported that “LeEco” smart TVs now come with DIRECTV NOW in their app store. Now, if you have never heard of LeEco, you’re not alone. I’ll admit I hadn’t heard of them either. They seem to be a Chinese concern which actually owns Vizio but operates it as an independent entity. From the looks of it, they actually run their TVs on a customized version of Android so it was probably fairly easy to port over the DIRECTV NOW app.
Now, I’m not recommending that you go out and buy a LeEco TV, even if you can find one. Personally I’ve never seen one and I just don’t know if they are any good. But the more important thing is that “someone” is doing it, and if they are, someone else will probably, soon.
My guess is that Samsung, Sony, and LG will have DIRECTV NOW apps within the next couple of months. I don’t know anything for certain, but these manufacturers have been partnered with DIRECTV for years in providing the DIRECTV Ready client software for their TVs. In fact Samsung has had DIRECTV software in their TVs since 2011.
This is all good news of course for people who use smart TVs. I’ve been burned by slow upgrade cycles and early end-of-life for the “smart” part of these TVs and as a result I rely on external streaming boxes which already have the DIRECTV now app.
The folks at AT&T who run the DIRECTV NOW product know that it’s critically important that they continue to develop support for all major streaming boxes as well as smart TV’s. I know that not every streaming box is supported yet and that we’re past a deadline that was given for streaming box support. I don’t know why that hasn’t happened yet but I know that it’s still on the radar and it’s going to happen.
Smart TV support could potentially be even more important than streaming box support because more and more cord-cutters fall into the “one device, one remote” model where they don’t want to see multiple boxes, they don’t want to change inputs, and they don’t want to see multiple remotes on the coffee table. For younger cord-cutters especially, the living-room TV is simply not a gathering place and they want to minimize its impact. One way of doing that is to cut down on wires and boxes and remotes. A smart TV with all the popular apps including a live streaming TV option would be welcome for them.
I would be curious, if there is actually someone out there who reads this blog who has a LeEco TV, I’m curious about how the experience is. Considering that this is essentially a ported-over Android app, how is the user interface? How do you interact with it? Let us all know… so we know what’s coming down the pike for other smart TVs in the future.