AT&T is making an Android-powered streaming box
Given the competition, a branded set-top box could be a tough sellBy David Matthews
AT&T's DirecTV Now streaming cable service supports a variety of third-party devices including Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku and Apple TV. In fact, DirecTV briefly sweetened the deal by including a free Roku or Apple TV with a new subscription. Now it seems that AT&T would like to offer its own streaming set-top box.
Variety has stumbled upon an FCC filing for an Android-powered set-top box called "AT&T/DirecTV Wireless 4K OTT Client." It'll include the requisite Ethernet, HDMI, USB and digital audio ports although there is no built-in antenna so over-the-air is out of the question.
There's also mention of a remote control with voice activation functions as well as a touchpad. Being Android-powered, it also has access to the Google Play Store so theoretically, you could use it to stream any number of services like Netflix or Hulu. However, this device is probably going to be geared towards DirecTV services though it doesn't look to hook into any DirecTV satellite hardware like the Genie set-top box.
AT&T's recent third quarter earnings reveal that while DirecTV satellite business lost 251,000 subscribers, AT&T gained 296,000 subscribers for DirecTV Now which is up to 787,000 total subscribers. With more people moving away from traditional cable and opting for streaming, AT&T looks to take advantage of this shift with its own hardware.
Unfortunately, the filing doesn't reveal any release dates. Variety surmises that AT&T could officially unveil their box during CES 2018. In any case, AT&T is betting that the future of cable is streaming although we'll have to see if consumers would prefer an AT&T streaming box or something from an established player.