DirecTV and Many More: How Many TV Services Does AT&T Actually Have?

DirecTV and Many More: How Many TV Services Does AT&T Actually Have?

Yes, you should be confused. 

AT&T, as has been widely reported this month, lost a massive amount of video subscribers in the first quarter of the than 1 million, in fact, if all of the company's video services are taken into account. The company is now left with 18.6 million subscribers across DirecTV, U-verse TV, and AT&T TV.

Those losses were spread out across the many different services that are offered by the company. What are those services, and how are they different from one another?

- DirecTV. This satellite TV service has been part of AT&T since it acquired the company of the same name in 2015 for $67 billion, which included $49 billion for the company itself and the resumption of $18.6 billion in debt.

DirecTV's core service has been bleeding subscribers for years, and questions have been raised over the long-term viability of satellite TV itself.

-  AT&T TV. The company, somewhat confusingly, offers separate products called AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now. AT&T TV officially rolled out nationally in March as a next-generation service, meant to be the focus of AT&T's efforts.

AT&T TV has been described by Cord Cutters as a "part streaming TV service… with a hardware element included in the form of an Android TV-based box." So users can get both channels, which are offered in multiple bundles, and streaming services through that box. It's a competitor to Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV.

- AT&T TV Now. AT&T TV is not to be confused with AT&T TV Now, an older streaming product formerly known as DirecTV Now. Launched in 2016, AT&T TV Now is a bundle that doesn't require a contract.

A review by TechHive last month lamented the decline of AT&T TV Now.

"In a push for more profitability, AT&T has slashed channels, raised prices, and discontinued all its deals and discounts," the review said. "The result is a live TV service that has all the same problems as before, but almost none of the benefits."

The service has lost nearly half of its subscribers over the course of the past year, and now has fewer than 1 million.

- U-verse TV. This service, which AT&T stopped selling last month, was a remnant of AT&T's old "triple play" service of phone, Internet and IPTV services. While new sales have been discontinued, that decision has not affected existing customers.

- AT&T WatchTV. WatchTV,  introduced in 2018, is a mobile-focused "skinny bundle" which it markets as "Live TV at a very low price."

How did AT&T lose so many video subscribers? It was a combination of the coronavirus costing them huge amounts of business and residential customers, and also the escalation of long-term trends.

AT&T said on their quarterly earnings call that they "anticipate increases in premium TV subscriber cord-cutting as well as lower revenues from commercial locations such as hotels, bars, and restaurants."

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.