AT&T TV launches nationwide, misses the point of cord cutting

David Matthews

Posts: 396   +75
Staff member

AT&T announced last year that it was launching a new streaming service called AT&T TV. Not to be confused with "AT&T Now" (formerly known as DirecTV Now), AT&T TV seems to be a streaming version of a standard cable subscription. The company is rolling out the service nationwide today after some limited trials, but doesn't seem to have learned why people are cutting the cord in the first place.

Let's start with the good news first. The service has some nice quality of life features along with live TV. The subscription comes with an Android TV set-top box complete with a Google Assistant-enabled remote control. Since it's Android TV, users can also install other streaming services like Netflix or Disney Plus and even use it as a Chromecast target. The remote can control smart home enabled devices via the Google Assistant, too.

Setting up the Android TV box is as simple as connecting it to your TV's HDMI port and hooking up the Wi-Fi. There's also an AT&T TV app for Android and iOS (including iPadOS). The live TV portion is front and center on the home screen and features a traditional channel guide. People who are used to traditional cable will feel right at home.

Now for the bad news. AT&T TV offers different subscription tiers that have an increasing number of included channels the higher you go. While the service offers introductory pricing for each of the tiers, that price goes up significantly after 12 months. The entry-level Entertainment package starts at $50 per month but goes up to $93. Likewise, the Choice and Xtra packages go up from $55 and $65 to $110 and $124, respectively. For those who want it all, the Ultimate package starts at $70 and jumps to $135 per month. Oh, and you still have to sign a two-year contract on top of it.

Breaking the contract will result in early termination fees of $15 for every month left in the contract. The first (admittedly awesome) Android TV set-top box is free but additional boxes will cost $120 apiece. AT&T is promoting an $80 bundle that includes gigabit internet and AT&T TV, but the cost savings after the first year may not be worth it.

One of the reasons people cut the cord is to avoid being locked into long-term contracts and drastic price hikes which often include hidden fees. AT&T seems to be leaning on the fact that their service is streamlined and simpler than traditional cable TV (particularly satellite). Being able to watch live TV while having immediate access to services like Netflix without having to switch television inputs is convenient but doesn't address the primary complaints about pay-TV subscriptions.

Other streaming cable services offer more features anyway. AT&T TV allows you to save up to 500 hours of DVR content, but YouTube TV has unlimited DVR storage. While AT&T TV allows up to three concurrent streams, so does YouTube TV, Philo, and Sling. In fact, Sling's Orange + Blue tier allows up to four simultaneous streams.

It seems that AT&T TV's primary advantage is the amount of channels that are available. Even the base Entertainment package contains most of the channels that people watch. However, having a glut of channels wasn't the point of cord cutting. A lot of cord cutters just want the ability to watch only the channels they want without being tied to a long-term commitment.

Permalink to story.

 

ShagnWagn

Posts: 1,297   +1,081
"Throw in a Google Assistant-enabled remote that can control smart home devices and it sounds like a very compelling package."

HELL no. This is where my reading of this article stopped. Anyone who even has an ounce of privacy at all will stop as well. This is also why I haven't bought a new TV in the last couple years. Thanks anyway.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,079   +1,232
Poor cable companies...

Before I thought about dropping cable TV I wanted to be able to pick my own stations a la carte. Sadly that never happened and it probably would have kept customers. I also wanted shorter commercial breaks, but that was never going to happen.
 

onestepforward

Posts: 165   +73
"Throw in a Google Assistant-enabled remote that can control smart home devices and it sounds like a very compelling package."

HELL no. This is where my reading of this article stopped. Anyone who even has an ounce of privacy at all will stop as well. This is also why I haven't bought a new TV in the last couple years. Thanks anyway.
I completely agree!

As an aside, I purposefully chose an LG tv, which uses WebOS and not Android. There's no chance in Hell of me introducing a Google device into my home.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,461   +6,133
So let's get this straight:

- It's regular TV channels with ads and all, just online?
- It's expensive with a contract and price hike after the 1st month?
- 1 free box and then equipment is crazy expensive?

These guys are clueless. This isn't the 1990s anymore.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,582   +6,101
"Unfortunately, two-year contracts, early termination fees, and severe price hikes mar an otherwise admirable attempt by AT&T to be relevant in an increasingly cord-cutting world"

AT&T has never been extremely bright when it comes to serving the consumer, but now at least they have clearly distinguished them as purely stupid!
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 2,049   +1,424
So let's get this straight:

- It's regular TV channels with ads and all, just online?
- It's expensive with a contract and price hike after the 1st month?
- 1 free box and then equipment is crazy expensive?

These guys are clueless. This isn't the 1990s anymore.
Yup.

Clueless Executives at the top that still think this is 1990. People are cutting the cord (I'm one of them) To avoid all that BS. These guys have no clue what going on in the market or do and just choose to stick their head in the sand and ignore it. The Younger generation doesn't even know what cable TV is.

TV executive's and the music industry are both run by dying old dinosaurs.
 
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CharmsD

Posts: 411   +255
Yup.

Clueless Executives at the top that still think this is 1990. People are cutting the cord (I'm one of them) To avoid all that BS. These guys have no clue what going on in the market or do and just choose to stick their head in the sand and ignore it. The Younger generation doesn't even know what cable TV is.

TV executive's and the music industry are both run by dying old dinosaurs.
What part of "we don't need you anymore" don't they understand?
 
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mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,684   +959
So let's get this straight:

- It's regular TV channels with ads and all, just online?
- It's expensive with a contract and price hike after the 1st month?
- 1 free box and then equipment is crazy expensive?

These guys are clueless. This isn't the 1990s anymore.
Yeah, but I bet the same guys who were in charge in the 90s are still in charge now.
 

ckm88

Posts: 370   +254
I have AT&T Watch TV bundled with HBO for free (technically not free since it's just included in my Unlimited Premium Plus cell plan). I'll admit, the show selection is nice and I can stream it data free when using "5G" or LTE.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,479   +3,575
My TV will never be anything other than a monitor for my HTPC.

I have two, two tuner HD Home Run tuners for OTA - which faithfully records everything that I want it to using MediaPortal. It's connected to the internet for Netflix, Hulu, and a tv-pod cast for $0.99 per weekly episode that my wife likes.

I gave up DishNetwork over four years ago now, and for which I was paying $85/mo. At this point, the savings has paid for the PC, plus the fully programmable remote system and equipment I got from Command Fusion - http://www.commandfusion.com/

Note, I am not including internet in this. We were paying extra for internet when I was with DishNetwork. Right now, we are paying $22..94/mo. - Netflix $12.99, Hulu $5.99, video pod cast $3.96. The package from Dish that I had is now $95/mo.

I quit because most of the things we watched were local channels that we could get OTA. We rarely watched anything outside of maybe five to seven channels. It was pointless for us to spend so much a month on something we rarely used. It was a matter of not spending money pointlessly.

As I see it, ATT is clearly showing that they are stuck in the pay TV model. To me, it sounds like they are trying a late entry to the fad and all they see are suckers that they think they can con out of a monthly subscription fee.

Granted, I am highly technical. But even the non-technical can get quite a bit of material from their local library on DVD or Blu-ray (including UHD), and that has become my goto for movies and TV series that we want to watch that are not on Netflix or Hulu.

And ATSC 3.0 is in the works for OTA - which is likely to be yet another leap in free TV services.
 
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ShagnWagn

Posts: 1,297   +1,081
My TV will never be anything other than a monitor for my HTPC.

I have two, two tuner HD Home Run tuners for OTA - which faithfully records everything that I want it to using MediaPortal. It's connected to the internet for Netflix, Hulu, and a tv-pod cast for $0.99 per weekly episode that my wife likes.

I gave up DishNetwork over four years ago now, and for which I was paying $85/mo. At this point, the savings has paid for the PC, plus the fully programmable remote system and equipment I got from Command Fusion - http://www.commandfusion.com/

Note, I am not including internet in this. We were paying extra for internet when I was with DishNetwork. Right now, we are paying $22..94/mo. - Netflix $12.99, Hulu $5.99, video pod cast $3.96. The package from Dish that I had is now $95/mo.

I quit because most of the things we watched were local channels that we could get OTA. We rarely watched anything outside of maybe five to seven channels. It was pointless for us to spend so much a month on something we rarely used. It was a matter of not spending money pointlessly.

As I see it, ATT is clearly showing that they are stuck in the pay TV model. To me, it sounds like they are trying a late entry to the fad and all they see are suckers that they think they can con out of a monthly subscription fee.

Granted, I am highly technical. But even the non-technical can get quite a bit of material from their local library on DVD or Blu-ray (including UHD), and that has become my goto for movies and TV series that we want to watch that are not on Netflix or Hulu.

And ATSC 3.0 is in the works for OTA - which is likely to be yet another leap in free TV services.
I also use my HTPC. How do you get surround sound from streaming? It is abysmally stupid we still have 2-channel audio! I haven't paid a dime for streaming because of it. It's the year 2020 for Heaven's sake!
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,479   +3,575
I also use my HTPC. How do you get surround sound from streaming? It is abysmally stupid we still have 2-channel audio! I haven't paid a dime for streaming because of it. It's the year 2020 for Heaven's sake!
It's not specifically available - as far as I can tell - on Hulu though some shows seem to sound much better than others - enough so to make me wonder.

Dolby Digital+ is available for Netflix if you use the Windows Netflix App. In the Netflix App, there is a setting up near, in mine anyway, the top right that lets you choose the audio stream. I am using the HDMI output directly to my HT Receiver - a Yamaha. IMO, it sounds pretty good, though it's not the equivalent of DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby True HD.

I do have an Atmos capable receiver, but I do not know whether there is Atmos data in the stream - and from what I understand, it may not make that much difference since I don't have Atmos speakers. See - https://www.audioholics.com/audio-technologies/dolby-atmos-success

OTA - DD is the standard - assuming the show has multi-channel audio. Probably the important link is that I send the audio through the HDMI cable to my receiver.
 
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ShagnWagn

Posts: 1,297   +1,081
It's not specifically available - as far as I can tell - on Hulu though some shows seem to sound much better than others - enough so to make me wonder.

Dolby Digital+ is available for Netflix if you use the Windows Netflix App. In the Netflix App, there is a setting up near, in mine anyway, the top right that lets you choose the audio stream. I am using the HDMI output directly to my HT Receiver - a Yamaha. IMO, it sounds pretty good, though it's not the equivalent of DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby True HD.

I do have an Atmos capable receiver, but I do not know whether there is Atmos data in the stream - and from what I understand, it may not make that much difference since I don't have Atmos speakers. See - https://www.audioholics.com/audio-technologies/dolby-atmos-success

OTA - DD is the standard - assuming the show has multi-channel audio. Probably the important link is that I send the audio through the HDMI cable to my receiver.
I never found a downloadable app install for my Windows 7 HTPC. I have an onkyo 929 and it supports all audio streams. Even though I have a high end speakers, all I care about is at least descent surround sound. It blows my mind Nutflicks was wanting me to watch the brand new Star Trek in 2-channel audio. LOL. Needless to say, they didn't get a dime from me. Thankfully it was only a trial.

I am using a HDMI cable directly from the video card on my HTPC to the receiver as well.

A HTPC is far superior to any of these crappy streaming devices. I don't see any reason why I should have to buy more and more devices...
 

Bluescreendeath

Posts: 238   +332
"Throw in a Google Assistant-enabled remote that can control smart home devices and it sounds like a very compelling package."

HELL no. This is where my reading of this article stopped. Anyone who even has an ounce of privacy at all will stop as well. This is also why I haven't bought a new TV in the last couple years. Thanks anyway.
Smart TVs usually connect via wifi. They can't connect to the internet if you never set up the wifi connection/password for them, and if they don't have internet then they can't possibly give away your private information.

If you have a streaming box or computer connected to a smart TV, then you basically never have to use the built in wifi/smart features of the TV.
 

ShagnWagn

Posts: 1,297   +1,081
Smart TVs usually connect via wifi. They can't connect to the internet if you never set up the wifi connection/password for them, and if they don't have internet then they can't possibly give away your private information.

If you have a streaming box or computer connected to a smart TV, then you basically never have to use the built in wifi/smart features of the TV.
Dumb "smart" TVs need connected to receive updates, such as selling points for features they don't even have yet (looking at you, dolby vision). Even if we don't use it, we are still forced to *pay* for it. You know unsecured wifi doesn't even need a password?

Right, but many of the features these dumb "smart" TVs are sold as and have buttons for are to utilize the microphones and cameras they bury in them. Of the TVs I was interested in, there was no way to disable the microphones and cameras I could find. Yet again, paying for so much I won't use.
 

onestepforward

Posts: 165   +73
Is it a new model?
No, it is an older model that I've had for a few year that I bought from Harvey Norman. Even then I point blank refused to have an Android-based tv. I'm currently considering a new tv, likely a 4K tv, and it will be WebOS, not Android.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,479   +3,575
I never found a downloadable app install for my Windows 7 HTPC.
I'm running Windows 10 pro on my HTPC it was Windows 8.1 when I built it. That said, I have all the update garbage disabled through the group policy editor and update manually about once a year or so.

I think the Netflix app is compatible only with 8.X or 10. It looks like there used to be a Netflix install for Windows Media Center on Win 7, however, it sounds like it no longer exists at least according to a response on page 3 of this thread -

Maybe it's time to take that plunge into the void and get that free Win 10 upgrade? :D
 

ShagnWagn

Posts: 1,297   +1,081
I'm running Windows 10 pro on my HTPC it was Windows 8.1 when I built it. That said, I have all the update garbage disabled through the group policy editor and update manually about once a year or so.

Maybe it's time to take that plunge into the void and get that free Win 10 upgrade? :D
You lost me at "I'm running Windows 10"...

Going from your first paragraph, and then comparing to the last doesn't help your statement to downgrade. Then my first reply was about privacy, which is the main reason I haven't switched my multiple computers over to it. I am forced to use Win10 at work... and it's an abomination. I have lost a lot of productivity, and hair, because of win10.

If I switch to a different operating system at home, it will most likely be linux. If I build a new rig, and a new game doesn't support linux, I guess it is Microsoft's fault for all these game devs (and themselves for) not getting more cash. I will keep my old Win7 machines around just for gaming from "the good 'ol days" I guess. And that makes me a sad panda.

It's really sad these companies feel they can just steal whatever information they want from us.
 

toooooot

Posts: 1,325   +626
It's not specifically available - as far as I can tell - on Hulu though some shows seem to sound much better than others - enough so to make me wonder.

Dolby Digital+ is available for Netflix if you use the Windows Netflix App. In the Netflix App, there is a setting up near, in mine anyway, the top right that lets you choose the audio stream. I am using the HDMI output directly to my HT Receiver - a Yamaha. IMO, it sounds pretty good, though it's not the equivalent of DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby True HD.

I do have an Atmos capable receiver, but I do not know whether there is Atmos data in the stream - and from what I understand, it may not make that much difference since I don't have Atmos speakers. See - https://www.audioholics.com/audio-technologies/dolby-atmos-success

OTA - DD is the standard - assuming the show has multi-channel audio. Probably the important link is that I send the audio through the HDMI cable to my receiver.
Atmos has improved sound. So even without in ceiling speakers you could benefit of better sound compared to normal non dolbi hearing experience. Also, those so called dolby atmos bars are a joke. You will barely hear what it is supposed to be heard from a typical in ceiling plus rear speaker sets.