Will AT&T TV take the place of DIRECTV?

In a recent earnings call, AT&T posted a bit of information about how they are focusing their marketing efforts on AT&T TV and HBO Max. This has led the haters to come out again, saying DIRECTV is done for.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The way I interpret this information is that we’ll see a lot of marketing money spent in the first two quarters of the year focused on AT&T TV and HBO Max. It doesn’t say DIRECTV is going away at all. Of course this money is going to be spent this way, these are two of the newest products. That makes sense, right?

What is AT&T TV?

I don’t talk much about AT&T TV on this blog. We don’t offer the product at Solid Signal and it’s not available nationally. Since I wrote this article, the product has rolled out nationally and we do offer it through our Signal Connect division.

This image comes from AT&T’s own landing page for the service. The AT&T TV device is a streaming box that runs a customized version of the AT&T TV NOW service. Using this device you get cloud DVR and the ability to pause live TV on most (if not all) channels. There’s a voice remote and a limited number of streaming apps available.

Right now several markets across the US are already able to sign up for AT&T TV. The service seems to cost about the same as satellite. The big difference is that all the content comes over the internet. This is great if you can’t put up a dish. However there are some limitations. You could be limited to the number of rooms you can watch in at the same time. Your streaming experience is definitely going to depend on the quality of your internet service. The service is only available in some areas and it’s not available for businesses.

AT&T TV is expected to be available nationally fairly soon.

What is HBO Max?

HBO Max is the new streaming service from AT&T launching in May. I wrote a lot about it here, but if you’re not into longform writing here are the basics:

  • It’s a standalone streaming service that will probably replace HBO GO and HBO NOW.
  • It will have most if not all HBO and Cinemax content, plus classic TV shows from the Warner archive like Friends.
  • We think it will be free for current DIRECTV customers who have HBO but that hasn’t been 100% confirmed.

As we move into the next phase of streaming, we’re seeing every major studio develop its own streaming sites. Whether it’s Netflix, Hulu/Disney/ABC, Prime, CBS, or NBC, it’s looking like you’ll need a separate app to view different stuff from different studios. You’ll also pay a separate price.

HBO Max is designed to compete in that arena, with new high-value content. Unlike Netflix, the goal is to have a small-to-medium number of shows but have them all be well-made.

HBO Max is expected to launch in May.

Where does this leave DIRECTV?

DIRECTV is just as strong as it has ever been.

Yes it’s true the service no longer boasts 23 million subscribers as it once did but it’s still the largest single pay-TV service in the world. AT&T has shown over and over its commitment to satellite television. They have recently refreshed their entire satellite fleet and there is now enough capacity for 10+ years.

DIRECTV rules the world of TV for business.

Neither AT&T TV nor HBO Max are going to be available for businesses. I don’t know if they ever will be. Businesses usually have slower internet (even though it costs more.) That makes streaming a generally bad deal for them. On the other hand, small-to-medium-sized retailers often sit in commercial bays which are perfect for satellite TV. DIRECTV is not only the best way to get live TV for your business, sometimes it’s the only way.

Who cares if the ad budget is low?

Remember the days when you could see some award-winning commercials for DIRECTV? I especially liked this one:

So folks, those days are gone. AT&T’s advertising barely mentions DIRECTV at this point. In the next several months you’ll see a lot of advertising for AT&T TV and HBO Max. Of course you will. These are new services and they need advertising. DIRECTV is an established leader and unlike those other two services it has a strong, established dealer base. They don’t need TV commercials. So, you won’t see any, but don’t fret…

DIRECTV is here to stay

Don’t believe the haters. If you like your DIRECTV system, stay with it! It’s the only satellite TV system with the 7-room Genie 2 system, the only system that works for businesses who want NFL Sunday Ticket, and it’s still a solid high-tech option.

Don’t let the rumors get you down. If you read this blog you’ll see that DIRECTV’s demise has been predicted for over 20 years and the service is still here and still beating the competition.

The only difference is, you have other choices in the next year from AT&T. That’s a good thing!


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.